Another day, another struggle.
Facing a Xavier team missing their star Naji Marshall, the Red Storm dropped their third game in a row, losing in Cincinnati to Xavier, 81-68.
St. John's now plays on Wednesday night in the Big East Tournament.
Sedee Keita was missing, out for the game for disciplinary rules. But the Johnnies had a chance with Marshall, the focal point of the Musketeers, out with an injury.
Nothing comes easy.
With the seeding implications of the game being well known, St. John’s came out sluggish. Xavier opened with an 8-0 prior to the U16 timeout thanks in part to three early offensive rebounds.
After a timeout, Coach Mullin had his Red Storm implement a press as well as a 2-3 zone, leading to a 8-0 run to tie it all up prior to U12.
From there, St. John’s did all it could to keep it close after Ryan Welage went on a dominant stretch over the last 12 minutes. Welage thrived against St. John’s zone and finished the half with 13 points (5/7 FG, 3/4 3PT), as well as pair of rebounds and assists.
Additionally, the Musketeers grabbed 4 more offensive boards finishing the half with 7 leading to 11 second chance points.
With the exception of LJ Figueroa, who finished the half with 13 points (6/8 FG, 1/1 3PT) and 4 rebounds, St. John’s was inefficient on the offensive end. The rest of the team finished with 20 points on 8 of 21 from the field.
Additionally, Figueroa converted all three of his attempts at the rim, the same amount as the rest of the Red Storm.
LJ’s play kept the Red Storm close going into the half, as St. John’s went into the break down 38-33.
For most of the second half, St. John’s stayed within striking distance without making a meaningful move for the lead.
In the second half, the Red Storm had 11 attempts at the rim and held Xavier to 3 offensive boards, but Xavier’s balanced approach did enough to maintain their lead.
With just under 6 minutes remaining, Figueroa, leading the game in scoring with 20 points (9/12 FG, 2/2 3PT) came down wrong on his foot and had to be removed from the game.
While Figueroa was out, St. John’s began to fade. St. John’s did not score over that stretch and went down by 10 points with less than 4 minutes remaining.
When Figueroa returned, it was too little too late for St. John’s. The Musketeers’ defense and balanced approach sealed the victory for Xavier.
Xavier held St. John’s without a field goal for 5 of the final 6 minutes with St. John’s grabbing a field goal with just over a minute remaining.
Offensively, Xavier had three players, Paul Scruggs, Kyle Castlin, and Zach Hankins, score 10 points or more.
Without anything going for St. John’s, Xavier’s Coach Steele pulled his seniors to a standing ovation before St. John’s dropped its third game in a row, 81-68.
St. John’s Red Storm
LJ Figueroa: 20 points (9/12 FG, 2/2 3PT), 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers
Shamorie Ponds: 19 points (6/15 FG, 3/9 3PT), 4 rebounds, 10 assists
Justin Simon: 13 points (6/12 FG), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover
Paul Scruggs: 22 points (7/18 FG, 2/8 3PT), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 turnovers
Ryan Welage: 19 points (7/11 FG, 5/8 3PT), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 turnover