The Red Storm fell to Providence in low-scoring fashion, 63-58. St. John’s kept it close, fought until the end, but couldn’t shoot well enough to take advantage of Providence — on a night when the Friars kept the game within striking distance.
St. John’s falls to 1-4 in Big East play; Providence improves to 4-1.
With Rasheem Dunn getting the start again for the Red Storm, and the Johnnies debuting a new version of the blue alternate jersey, St. John’s wanted to start fast and with energy. Providence was also missing starting forward Emmitt Holt and bench guard AJ Reeves. St. John’s jumped into the game quickly, with Dunn getting to the rim from the beginning, and with Providence’s David Duke committing three early turnovers.
But the Red Storm were sloppy on the floor, missing challenged layups and committing turnovers. Familiar with dropping points on St. John’s, Alpha Diallo and Nate Watson started going to work. After a stretch of four straight turnovers, the Friars led by five.
The Johnnies were confused by an active Providence zone for a stretch. After a media timeout, the Red Storm came out smoother. Greg Williams, Jr. scored nine to help pace the squad.
Still, the Friars, bolstered by offensive rebounds (in the game, they snagged 35% of their misses), led by as many as seven in the first half.
St. John’s would not go quietly in the second half. Mustapha Heron started the scoring in the second half. Coasch Mike Anderson found a group of players that he thought he could cut into the lead with — Williams, Heron, Figueroa, Josh Roberts, Rasheem Dunn, with appearances by Marcellus Earlington and Nick Rutherford.
Both teams missed shots, neither team could get a flow. St. John’s took a lead in the middle of the half on an Earlington layup. An 8-0 run by the Friars erased that. Mustapha Heron picked up a third and fourth foul in quick succession.
For the rest of the game, the Johnnies tried gamely, got within a possession, but couldn’t shoot well enough to take the lead. LJ Figueroa’s 2/12 from beyond the arc and only seven points from Mustapha Heron was not enough on a night where the grind of the game needed a few minutes of transition scoring to put the Red Storm over the hump.
There are good elements here for the Red Storm, but the Friars are better versed in what they wanted to do on the floor. Even in a game where they missed a pair of rotation players, they got to their spots, got shots at the rim, drew fouls, made St. John’s offense difficult, and were generally frustrating — a notch better and in rhythm than St. John’s, who have many of the same goals on the court.
Next up for St. John’s is a home matchup against thew Seton Hall Pirates, coming off of their win tonight at top ten. Providence gets #25 Creighton on Saturday in Omaha.