With Shamorie Ponds out again with an abdominal strain and Kassoum Yakwe out with an illness, Amar Alibegovic got the start and walk-on sophomore Justin Cole received 10 minutes off the bench in his fifth game of the season. Justin Simon played every minute again, but the Red Storm fell to 15-16 on the season and 4-14 in the Big East.
The first half got off to a choppy start with both St. John’s and Providence struggling to find their respective rhythms.
Providence kept the Red Storm off balance by playing aggressively on the defensive end and playing 10 players in the first half. St. John’s regularly changed their defensive schemes between man-to-man and zone.
Both approaches proved effective with St. John’s turning the ball over nine times and finishing the half with only a 35.7% FG%. Providence turned the ball over ten times and missed all seven of their three-point attempts.
The biggest bright spot for St. John’s in the first half was Tariq Owens, who finished the half with 12 points (5-8 FG, 2-2 3PT) and 4 rebounds.
Providence’s Alpha Diallo finished the first half with 7 points of his own (3-4 FG, 0-1 3PT) and 4 rebounds.
St. John’s came out cold offensively in the second half. Aside from two baskets at the rim early in the half and a free throw, the Red Storm were unable to get anything going in the first eight minutes of the second half.
Providence, led by seniors Rodney Bullock and Kyron Cartwright in their final home game, was able to get the ball into the paint more effectively in the second half. The Friars also regularly made an extra pass after the Red Storm defense collapsed allowing Providence to get out to and early ten point lead in the second half.
As St. John’s tried to claw its way back, the fouls started to collect on the shorthanded Red Storm.
However, the Red Storm found a way to force its way back into the ballgame. The shots started dropping for Bashir Ahmed, Marvin Clark II, and Justin Simon, and the fervor to finish defensive opportunities was reignited.
With the Providence lead cut to 50-47, and two minutes remaining, Providence’s Cartwright hit a three to grow the lead to six.
Simon responded by getting to the line and knocking down one free-throw with 1:12 remaining.
Simon’s foul on Jalen Lindsey with just under 40 seconds remaining all but sealed it for Providence, but Simon hit a tough layup to keep the game within reach.
The Red Storm were unable to force a late turnover with less than 30 seconds remaining, and the Friars won the game 61-57.
Both teams struggled the entire game with turnovers, as St. John’s had 18 and Providence had 17. The key difference was that Providence capitalized, as they scored 18 points off of turnovers to St. John’s 10 points.
Next for St. John’s is the first round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden against the Georgetown Hoyas on Wednesday, March 7 at 7:00 PM.
St. John’s Red Storm
Marvin Clark II: 14 Points (5-11 FG, 3-73PT), 6 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 5 Turnover
Justin Simon: 13 Points (5-12 FG), 6 Rebounds, 9 Assists, 10 Turnovers
Tariq Owens: 12 Points (5-10 FG, 2-2 3PT), 5 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Turnover
Bashir Ahmed: 12 Points (5-13 FG, 1-4 3PT), 7 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Turnover
Rodney Bullock: 13 Points (4-13 FG, 1-4 3PT), 8 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Turnover
Alpha Diallo: 13 Points (4-8 FG, 1-2 3PT), 7 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 4 Turnovers
Kyron Cartwright: 10 Points (3-7 FG, 2-3 3PT), 1 Rebound, 2 Assists, 3 Steals, 7 Turnovers