This looked like the day that St. John’s would upend their five year drought against the Xavier Musketeers. But a 17-1 run deflated the Red Storm upset bid and the Johnnies lost, 69-61, in Cincinnati.
The Red Storm fall to 6-5, 1-4 in the Big East. Xavier improves to 9-2, 2-2 in the league.
The first half was a highlight for defense and effort, as St. John’s held Xavier scoreless from beyond the arc and 36% inside the arc — with nine turnovers. For stretches, the Red Storm looked potent on the fast break, but struggled to generate fast break opportunities, or convert turnovers into scoring.
Rasheem Dunn was sharp, making contested shots to stake St. John’s to what looked like a lead. Xavier struggled to find points, but freshman Colby Jones — who had scored 19 points in five games all season — carried the Musketeers. The Johnnies went scoreless over the last four minutes, and the Musketeers closed the gap to go into the half with a tie.
The second half was more of the same — two teams to struggling to find flow, despite a hot start to the half from Vince Cole. But in the last nine minutes, Xavier found a run — with their star forward Zach Freemantle, who struggled from the field — on the bench. The Musketeers ripped off a 17-1 run, helped by a number of Red Storm turnovers. Despite late efforts to claw back, St. John’s fell.
Rasheem Dunn scored 17, Julian Champagnie added 15 with nine rebounds before fouling out. Isaih Moore added nine rebounds and six points. Posh Alexander had five assists while Dylan Addae-Wusu led the team with six. St. John’s shot 8/15 from the free throw line, 53%; they also shot 5/18 from beyond the arc (28%).
Colby Jones led Xavier with 16 — just three points from his season total. Jason Carter scored 11 and had 16 total rebounds. The Musketeers went 0/12 from the three-point line and 21/34 from the free throw line, 62%. They had 42 of their 69 points in the paint.
Next for St. John’s is a second matchup against Creighton at midday on Saturday in Omaha.