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St. John’s falls to Providence, 83-73

The Red Storm led by as much as 7, but were overcome by Providence’s interior play.

Nick Bello

On an afternoon where Julian Champagnie could not get cooking on the road and foul trouble loomed large, St. John’s shooting woes on the road were a huge factor in Providence’s 83-73 win over the Johnnies.

The Red Storm are 9-4 on the season and 1-1 in the Big East. Providence improves to 14-2, 4-1 in Big East play.

It was a game physical enough for the viewers to feel, and it was sluggish to start. St. John’s and Providence both struggled to shoot, particularly from deep, in the first half. St. John’s rode into the halftime break with effort; the Red Storm had nine more shots than Providence thanks to their offensive rebounding.

It was not pretty. The Friars got to the line repeatedly (15 times to the Red Storm’s seven) and got St. John’s into deep foul trouble. Joel Soriano ended the half with three and three other players had two apiece.

What’s more, the expected stars in this game — Julian Champagnie and Providence’s Nate Watson — struggled to get going. Both finished the first half with four points. St. John’s got excellent minutes from Aaron Wheeler, while Posh Alexander kept driving to find points in a game that was filled with physical misses. Justin Minaya, Ed Croswell, and Jared Bynum joined Al Durham to keep Providence close.

The Red Storm got hot to start the second half. Providence head coach Ed Cooley took a time out and the script flipped.

Leading by as many as seven in the early stage of the second half, Providence got things going with runs of 8-0 and 9-2 to build a nine point lead at home. Nate Watson got touches and scores at the rim, whether big man Joel Soriano (who picked up his fourth foul to start the second half) was on the floor or not. Watson ended with

The Red Storm could not find offensive flow. As the lead built, the Johnnies got more ragged on defense. The Red Storm were down by as much as 12, and lost by 10 — despite forcing more turnovers and getting more shots up in the half. Providence enjoyed an advantage at the free throw line, and 18 points from Nate Watson on the way to their final margin.

More to come from the Rumble.