There was a lot of fight, but in the end history will only record the final score in the Quarterfinal of the Big East Tournament — a 77-69 loss to the cross-river rival Seton Hall, a game that likely ends the season for Mike Anderson’s Red Storm at a final record of 16-11
Familiarity breeds contempt — or at least a rock fight — especially with so much on the line for both St. John’s and Seton Hall. The Johnnies were tough and pesky and resilient, but the Pirates were physical, rebounded well, and forced St. John’s to miss an uncharacteristic number of shots from the field.
Seton Hall started off well, and built a small cushion before the game settled down — with the addition of Posh Alexander early in the first half.
Of course, it is well and good to have Alexander’s energy, but as a team, the Red Storm defense had its struggles. St. John’s once again found themselves on the wrong side of some Seton Hall runs, falling behind as much as nine late in the first half.
The defense was allowing deep penetration to the probing Pirates, but on offense, the Johnnies simply missed open shots that they would usually make. Champagnie needed a number of shots to carry the team, and the rest of the team struggled to make shots. Sandro Mamukelashvili, one of the three Big East Players of the Year, was very good, and center Ike Obiagu used his size to make the going hard for St. John’s.
Finally, the Red Storm started messing up the flow of the Hall’s offense, and went on a 10-0 run to take a lead late in the first half. They held the Pirates scoreless for most of the last five minutes of the half... until Ike Obiagu’s dunk with under 30 seconds left.
That dunk gave the Pirates the halftime lead.
The offensive struggles created an early second half crater, as Obiagu — and the Red Storm’s own misses — created long cold spells. St. John’s went ice cold for a chunk of the half. The team found new life behind Marcellus Earlington in the last ten minutes and a smaller lineup. A 9-0 run gave the Johnnies a lead, that they quickly returned to the Hall’s Jared Rhoden.
The teams went back and forth, able to get to the rim. But still, the problems remained — the Johnnies couldn’t get clean catch and shoot attempts, and their drives were being stymied by Obiagu.
With the game tied with under 30 seconds left, St. John’s got a pair of stops — and the game went to overtime. The Johnnies, still chasing the game, still couldn’t make shots. A bevy of free throws — 12 attempts in overtime — pushed the Pirates over the top.
Next up for the winners is a 6 pm Friday night matchup against the Georgetown Hoyas, surprise winners over Villanova, who were missing star guard and three-way-co-Big East Player of the Year, Collin Gillespie.