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Timid St. John’s Falls to Villanova, 73-62

Another Quad 1 opportunity for the Red Storm passes them by

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

Despite a strong start by the Red Storm, St. John’s appeared intimidated for a majority of the game time and fell to Villanova, 73-62.

The game started optimistically for the Red Storm. A 7-0 run by the Johnnies helped the team to a 7-2 lead going into the under-16 minutes media timeout.

Unfortunately for St. John’s, the ball movement and off-ball actions that worked so well in the first four minutes were no longer implemented by the Johnnies. The timid offense subsequently sputtered, often being comprised of no more than a single pass leading to a contested three.

The Red Storm offense was at its best when Joel Soriano was on the floor. The big man finished the half with 4 points (2/3 FG), 1 rebound, and two blocks and was often the only reason the ball ever went into the paint. Soriano had a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 90.9 and a stop percentage (estimated rate of defensive possessions where the opposing team did not score) of 34.7%. Despite his production and 0 fouls, the powers that be determined that the team was better off with Soriano on the bench.

Underwhelming half-court offense is nothing new for this team, however. Except in this case, the Red Storm were unable to get out and run either. Villanova only turned the five times, and St. John’s converted those into a measly two points. Worse yet, the Johnnies had 0 fast break points.

Despite all that went wrong for the Red Storm, the game was close until Villanova closed the half on a 20-3 run. The run helped Villanova go into the half up 40-26.

In the second half, the approach by St. John’s changed, but they were still unable to close the gap on Villanova.

To the Red Storm’s credit, the offense was at least less afraid of going into the paint. The team certainly got to the free throw line more, but the season-long poor free throw shooting continued with the Johnnies shooting 8 of 17 from the charity stripe. This is in stark contrast with Villanova, who, despite going five-and-a-half minutes without a field goal, were able to grow their lead on the back of their free throw shooting.

A concern for this Red Storm team is three straight no-show games from Julian Champagnie and Dylan Addae-Wusu. Champagnie is averaging fewer than 8 points over the past three games with 9 points tonight (4/12 FG, 0/4 3PT) and Addae-Wusu is averaging just over 4 points over the same stretch with 6 points tonight (2/8 FG, 0/4 3PT). Perhaps it is less surprising for Addae-Wusu, who had hot and cold stretches as a freshman and is still developing some consistency. However, for someone with NBA aspirations, Champagnie’s offensive disappearance is both surprising and, assuming Champagnie is healthy, should be a concern for interested NBA teams.

In the final three minutes of the game, the Red Storm were able to cut Villanova’s lead to 9 on the back of a 9-0 run. However, the garbage time run was not enough to make it a game, as St. John’s allowed Villanova to get back up and win by double digits, 73-62.

St. John’s Red Storm

Montez Mathis: 14 points (6/10 FG, 0/3 3PT), 2 rebounds, 1 assist

Julian Campagnie: 9 points (4/12 FG, 0/4 3PT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists

Posh Alexander: 7 points (2/8 FG, 0/1 3PT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists

Villanova Wildcats

Collin Gillespie: 17 points (5/7 FG, 3/5 3PT), 3 rebounds

Eric Dixon: 15 points (4/5 FG, 1/1 3PT), 7 rebounds