With Mustapha Heron sidelined, St. John's dropped their return to the Garden to the Providence Friars, 70-56 in a choppy game.
The Johnnies fell to 5-6 in conference and 17-7 overall, while Providence improves to 4-7 in conference and 14-10 overall. St. John’s returns to Carnesecca to face Butler on Tuesday.
Almost two weeks since their last home game, the Red Storm returned to Madison Square Garden to to take on a physical Providence Friars team. Despite Providence’s poor 3-7 record in conference, there was no mistaking that Providence played farbetter than their record, and they displayed that against St. John’s.
Providence removed any sort of rhythm from the game with their physical defense and ability to get to the free throw line, a style far removed from St. John’s preferred up-and-down pace.
With Mustapha Heron out with a bruised knee and Providence’s size, Sedee Keita got the start for the Red Storm.
Providence was able to turn the game into a half-court slug-fest for most of the first half. While Providence did turn the ball over 8 times in the half, St. John’s converted those turnovers into 6 points.
Despite the slow paced half, St. John’s was able to keep pace with Providence in converting at the rim. The Red Storm finished 4 of 7 on layups and 0 of 1 on dunks, to Providence’s 4 of 9 on layups and 1 of 1 on dunks.
Part of St. John’s success in contesting shots at the rim included keeping a big man on the floor at all times. In order to keep Keita fresh, Josh Roberts received some real minutes grabbing a rebound and picking up a pair of fouls.
Despite Keita’s and Roberts’s best efforts, Providence dominated on the boards. The Friars went into the half with 23 rebounds to St. John’s 10, with 8 of Providence’s rebounds coming on the offensive end.
Despite playing Providence’s half-court game, St. John’s went into the half down only 31-29, in large part thanks to Shamorie Ponds and his 12 points (5/9 FG, 0/1 3PT).
The second half resumed the way the first half ended: as a slow, grindy game.
Roberts returned to provide some quality minutes, finishing the game with 2 points and 5 rebounds off the bench.
Despite the strong showing from Ponds, the Red Storm never quite got over the hump in the second half.
Providence finished the game having worn out the rim, going 8 of 19 on layups and 2 of 2 on dunks for the game.
Adding to the choppiness, the Friars also kept forcing their way to the free throw line. Providence attempted 28 free throws in the game, and 18 of those came in the second half.
The pace and the difference in free throw’s in the second half were enough to put the Red Storm down for the afternoon, 70-56.
St. John’s Red Storm
Shamorie Ponds: 20 points (7/17 FG, 0/2 3PT), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnover
LJ Figueroa: 14 points (5/10 FG, 1/2 3PT), 2 rebounds, 4 turnover
Sedee Keita: 7 points (2/5 FG), 3 assists
Nate Watson: 18 points (5/9 FG), 5 rebounds, 2 turnover
Isaiah Jackson: 12 points (2/5 FG, 2/5 3PT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnover