In a grindy, chippy game, St. John’s was able to hold on in the end to pick up a win over the Providence Friars, 80-69.
St. John’s improves to 14-11, 3-9 in Big East play; Providence falls to 13-12, 6-6 in the Big East.
After falling to Providence about a month ago, 63-58, the Johnnies needed a little more offensive juice this time around to beat the Friars. Unfortunately for St. John’s, they would have to do so without Mustapha Heron, who was deemed “likely” done for the season earlier this week. St. John’s would need to find a way to redistribute his 11 shots per game and infuse more scoring into their offense.
The Red Storm were able to have an excellent six minute stretch where the Johnnies went on a 17-3 run. This run was fueled in large part by by back-to-back threes by LJ Figueroa followed by two buckets by David Caraher.
As Coach Mike Anderson has been saying all season, this team is more than a two-man team. This sentiment was further demonstrated by no player on the Red Storm roster attempting more than six field goals in the first half, with Figueroa and Julian Champagnie attempting six apiece.
St. John’s also was able to close the half on another solid defensive stretch holding the Friars without a field goal for the final three minutes of the half, helping the Johnnies go into the half up 33-25.
The Red Storm began the second half on a 7-0 run, capped off by this gem from Figueroa.
Soon thereafter, the game got a little chippy with the Red Storm receiving the brunt of the referees’ collective wrath at the time. Both Caraher and Marcellus Earlington picked up questionable flagrant-one fouls for “hook and hold” calls, while trying to hold position for rebounds. Coach Mike Anderson picked up a technical foul for his vehement defense of Caraher.
But the whistles did not deter the Johnnies’ aggressive defense, as the Friars turned the ball over 13 time in the half. Even when Providence did not turn the ball over, the Johnnies forced them into undesirable contested shots resulting in the Friars shooting 13 of 30 from the floor and 4 of 12 from deep in the half.
Ed Cooley also picked up a technical foul in the second half, incensed about his team’s play or a missed foul call.
Despite the aggressive initial efforts of the Red Storm on the defensive end, there were more lapses on the glass than there had been for most of the season with the Friars grabbing 15 offensive rebounds in the game, and Alpha Diallo grabbing 8 of his own.
After being St. John’s leading scorer against Creighton on Saturday, Earlington quietly had another solid half for the Red Storm adding 10 points and grabbing 2 rebounds after the break to help put the Friars away, despite fouling out with nearly three minutes remaining.
With about two-and-a-half minutes to go, the Johnnies had an double digit lead, until the Friars went on a 7-0 run, due in large part to their press, to close the gap to 6 points. Turnovers and unnecessary fouls played a role late as the Johnnies tried to close out the game.
Before it was too late, the Johnnies figured out the press by giving up on the high-arching passes, the Friars began the end-of-game fouling ritual, and the Johnnies walked away with a win, 80-69.
Next, the Johnnies head into the city to take on the Xavier Musketeers on Monday at 6:30.
St. John’s Red Storm
LJ FIgueroa: 19 points (6/14 FG, 4/9 3PT), 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 turnover
Julian Champagnie: 14 points (5/9 FG, 2/4 3PT), 7 rebounds, 3 turnovers
Marcellus Earlington: 12 points (4/10 FG, 2/3 3PT), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers
Alpha Diallo: 19 points (8/15 FG), 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 turnovers
AJ Reeves: 12 points (4/9 FG, 2/5 3PT), 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover