A bored St. John’s team ran out to an early lead, let Brown back into it, then slammed the door on a comeback winning 82-71.
In what may be becoming a troubling trend, LJ Figueroa struggled to stay on the floor early due to foul trouble, picking up two in the first four minutes, and Mustapha Heron’s funk continued through the first half. In the past two games against Saint Peter’s and West Virginia, Heron has shot a worrisome 31% from the floor, and that trend continued with 36% conversion percentage from the field in the first half. However, one of those misses turned into the highlight of the night.
@gthemenace #SJUBB @ESPNAssignDesk pic.twitter.com/Op3kQsopFD— St. John's BBall (@StJohnsBBall) December 11, 2019
Despite LJ only playing six minutes in the half, he made the most of those minutes. Figueroa put up 10 points on a dynamic 3 of 5 from the field and 2 of 4 from deep. When LJ wasn’t on the floor, Rasheem Dunn picked up where he left off. Dunn finished the half with a pair of assists and a cool 7 points off 2 of 3 from the floor and 1 of 2 from deep.
Part of what led to St. John’s victory over West Virginia was winning the turnover battle. While Brown is not the same caliber of opponent as West Virginia, the goal of winning the turnover battle was again self-evident. The Johnnies only turned the ball over three times prior to the break while Brown turned it over ball over 11 times. The Johnnies did not just force turnovers, but converted them into 12 points.
Behind the Red Storm’s transition game, St. John’s went into the break up 41-24.
In the second half, everything that had not been working for Heron started working. Heron’s touch on clean looks appeared to have returned, and Mustapha finished the half with 13 points on a clean 3 of 5 from the field.
As for the rest of St. John’s, they looked bored. Not the good kind of bored due to an insurmountable lead, but the bad kind of bored that has mischievous outcomes. And the boredom showed up most on the glass. Brown out-rebounded the Red Storm 18 to 15 in the half, with 6 of those 18 being offensive rebounds, which was the catalyst to bring Brown within four points of the lead with just over six minutes left in the game.
But then, Mike Anderson’s jacket came off. Soon thereafter, the Johnnies coincidentally knocked down four of their next five shots to regain a double-digit lead.
Integral to St. John’s regaining their lead was Dunn. Rasheem did not shoot as well in the second as he did in the first, but he still found a way to drive the Brown defense crazy by dishing out 4 assists in addition to contributing 5 points (1/5 FG).
Of concern, however, was Mustapha Heron going down hard on his ankle, thriving in pain on the baseline, and having to be carried off the floor. Without Heron, the Red Storm were able to hold on to beat Brown, 82-71.
The Johnnies stay home to take on the Albany Great Danes, not tomorrow, but next Wednesday at 8:30 PM. While no injuries are good, it might have been the best timing for an injury with more than a week between games.
St. John’s Red Storm
LJ Figueroa: 23 points (7/16 FG, 3/9 3PT), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover
Mustapha Heron: 21 points (7/16 FG, 1/7 3PT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers
Rasheem Dunn: 12 points (3/8 FG, 1/2 3PT), 6 assists
Brandon Anderson: 25 points (10/24 FG, 3/9 3PT), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers
Joshua Howard: 15 points (6/11 FG, 3/6 3PT), 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover