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St. John’s knocks off Providence Friars, 92-81

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The Johnnies had a scorching hot start, and fought off Providence for their sixth straight win.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s picked up their sixth straight win after a 92-81 victory over Providence, thanks to a strong Saturday afternoon by their stars.

St. John’s improves to 13-7, 7-6 in the Big East, and are close to clinching one more non-losing season for Mike Anderson (15 games will do it). Providence drops to 9-10, 5-8 in the league.

With a five game winning streak on the line, St. John’s enjoyed some hot shooting early and executed late despite a big game from Providence’s center, Nate Watson.

It didn’t come easy, despite how the game unfolded in the first — or exploded. Providence, a team that slows the pace and uses the paint to score, chose to play St. John’s pace early on. For a while, they hung on; but with Posh Alexander making threes and Julian Champagnie hitting jumpers from all over and Rasheem Dunn doling out assists, the Johnnies soon opened up a 17-point lead.

Providence had not been playing badly, though leading scorer David Duke was scoreless. And once the Friars realized their advantage lay in the paint with big man Nate Watson, they whittled the lead down.

Watson’s 18, mostly in the paint, was aided by a surprise burst from forward Noah Horchler, who had 16 points — getting open on the perimeter, rebounding out of his area, and playing tough basketball.

The second half started with composed play by the Friars, starting with Alyn Breed. Providence took a lead and were ahead by as much as five in the second half. The Red Storm generated a 15-1 run, powered by three steals (and four turnovers overall from the Friars) for a solid cushion.

Rasheem Dunn’s aggressive play was key. He handed out assists, hot some tough jump shots — the kind that sometimes miss the mark for him — and played tough defense. Dylan Addae-Wusu (eight points, two steals) and Marcellus Earlington (nine points, six rebounds, two steals) added hard working efforts, and Isaih Moore (nine points, four rebounds) threw down some scores at the rim when the Friars left a lane to help salt away the game.

Next for St. John’s is a late game on Tuesday in Indiana against Butler.

Notes

Julian Champagnie led St. John’s with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Posh Alexander added 21 with four assists. Rasheem Dunn scored 13 points and 10 assists.

Nate Watson scored 30 to lead Providence with eight rebounds. Noah Horchler added 19 with eight rebounds.