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St. John’s Big East woes continue with 68-63 loss to Creighton

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Nightmare first half sends Red Storm to 0-9 in conference play

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at St. John Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Eleven consecutive misses set the tone for a frustrating night for St. John’s at Carnesecca Arena. The Red Storm’s valiant effort in the second half wasn’t enough to overcome an ugly first half performance in a 68-63 loss to Creighton on Tuesday.

Following a Tariq Owens layup on the opening possession, St. John’s managed just a free throw in the following seven minutes, missing eleven consecutive shots from the floor making just 8 of 28 shot overall in the first half. Shamorie Ponds in particular missed his first six shots and was just held to seven points on the night.

After scoring just five points in the first seven minutes, Creighton used runs of 16-4 and 12-3 to build a lead as large as 15 in the half. The Bluejays took advantage of St. John’s offensive woes as well as the Red Storm’s inability to defend shots beyond the arc, hitting 11 3-pointers on the night, all by their top three scorers.

Marcus Foster led the game with 24 points and collected eight rebounds for the Bluejays. Khyri Thomas was a thorn in the Red Storm’s side on both ends of the court. The junior had 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a stingy effort on defense. Toby Hegner scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half with 4 3-pointers.

Ponds was limited to seven minutes in the second half and spent much of it on the bench with ice on his knee, but the Red Storm still managed to make things interesting with Justin Simon as the focus of their offense. Simon scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in the second half after starting the game 1-for-6, and he added nine rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Owens finished with 14 points and two blocks and Bashir Ahmed scored 11.

After a 3-pointer by Foster put Creighton up by 16 less than four minutes into the final period, St. John’s began to build momentum after a timeout. The Red Storm managed to climb back into the game largely in part due to forcing a normally mistake-free Creighton team to commit 11 turnovers in the second half, about as much as the Bluejays average per game. The Johnnies scored 17 times off 16 Bluejay turnovers for the game.

Three-pointers by Marvin Clark and Bryan Trimble after the timeout cut the Bluejays’ lead to single digits. A three-point play by Ahmed made it a seven-point game, but Thomas helped provide a response on three different occasions when the Red Storm managed to cut it back to seven down the stretch, which proved costly.

After Hegner missed what would’ve been a dagger 3-pointer in the final minutes, Ahmed’s layup off a Simon pass in transition made it a four-point game with 38 seconds left. However, St. John’s wasted precious seconds by allowing Creighton to take time off the clock with fouls to give.

Simon’s layup with 15 seconds left made it a three-point game, but Davion Mintz hit both free throws and Creighton sealed it in the final seconds with a strip on Ahmed.

The loss extended St. John’s conference losing streak to nine straight and dropped the Red Storm below .500 for the first time all season. The Johnnies will look to finally end the drought at Butler on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs handed the Red Storm a 110-86 loss in their previous meeting February 15 of last season.

Creighton (16-5, 6-3 Big East) now sits in third in the conference behind Villanova and Xavier with the win. The Bluejays host Georgetown on Saturday.