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St. John’s escapes with 97-93 win over Boston College

St. John’s was blowing out Boston College. Until they weren’t.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Boston College David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s faced their first high-major opponent and managed to both impress and cause worry in a 97-93 win over Boston College. Julian Champagnie, in his sophomore season debut, led the team with a career-high 29 points and 10 total rebounds.

The game got within two points late, as Boston College kept coming back despite being down as many as 20 in the second half, but the Red Storm held off the Eagles in their first game in the Mohegan Sun “Bubbleville”.

St. John’s improves to 3-0, and faces BYU on Wednesday — a new addition to the season schedule after the Red Storm cancelled their contest at Texas Tech due to the rising COVID case rate in the Lubbock area.

Boston College made it interesting late, as the Red Storm — filled with newcomers — struggled to close the game out late. In the last three minutes, the Eagles scored 10 points in a row. The Johnnies committed three turnovers, having a hard time getting the ball in and finding space, all while finding three players — Isaih Moore, Dylan Addae-Wusu and Vince Cole, newcomers all — foul out in the waning minutes.

The first act of the game was also rough, as the Red Storm took a few minutes before they found their legs. The Eagles led by as many as 10 in the first half, behind the attacking skill of wing CJ Felder and guard Wynston Tabbs, who led BC with 23 points on the evening. Boston College showed zone, but found that Posh Alexander, not thought of as a shooter, was happy to take, and make, threes.

Julian Champagnie looked rusty at first, but then got locked in for the second 10 minutes.

The Johnnies got the running game going and overwhelmed the Eagles with a 22-8 run. Champagnie ended the half with 14 points, while Alexander sparkled with 16 points; Dylan Addae-Wusu had five assists in the half while Greg Williams Jr. added four.

St. John’s was up 12 as the second half began, and BC cut the lead to eight with just over 17 minutes to play. The Red Storm activated their defensive length and got into the groove with 7-0 and 13-2 runs, powered by some sloppy Boston College play — including two Rich kelly turnovers and a Wynston Tabb turnover. The run was punctuated by a power dunk in transition by Greg Williams Jr. between two defenders.

Ah, a nice, finished game... right?

The last five or so minutes were a sign of the Johnnies’ youth and enthusiasm, perhaps, gone too far.

Boston College abandoned the zone and played in the chaos. St. John’s only attempted five threes in the second half, making five; the team also committed 10 of their 15 turnovers in the half.

And while the Eagles have struggled for years, players like Makai Ashton-Langford (13 points), Wynston Tabbs, Jay Heath (13 points) and Rich Kelly (11 points, all in the second half) are able to create their shots in transition, off of step backs, in traffic — in other words, able to play in the athletic chaos St. John’s wants to impose on the court.

Those turnovers led to a 14-0 Boston College run, but the Red Storm bounced back. With under three minutes to play, after a Marcellus Earlington make, the Johnnies were up 13. Even this lead was not safe, as the Red Storm gave up a 12-1 run to a hard-charging Eagles squad... thanks to more turnovers.

BC was as close as two points with under a minute left; the Johnnies had three players fouled out. Greg Williams Jr. drew fouls, but split two of his three pairs of free throw attempts.

John McGriff, fresh off the bench, combined with Greg Williams and Champagnie to force a turnover on Wynston Tabbs.., only to have Champagnie turn the ball over on an inbounds pass. Wynston Tabbs was stuffed by Champagnie on his second corner three on the ensuing possession, and John McGriff polished the game off with one of two free throws.

Looking back, Boston College might have won if they had not committed turnovers on 22% of their possessions, or had not missed eight free throws across the two halves. And St. John’s has a set of their own miscues to consider, problems a developing team cannot afford — poor late-game cohesion, Posh Alexander’s missed windmill dunk on an open breakaway.

The team is new, led by a freshman point guard; better games will come.

Posh Alexander was held to two points in the second half and finished second on the team in scoring with 18 points on 7/11 shooting. Greg Williams Jr. had 17 points, six assists and two steals.