St. John’s gave away a 6-point lead to Villanova when the offense went cold late, dropping the first Madison Square Garden game of the season, 57-49.
Prior to the game, it was announced that Montez Mathis’s toe injury will keep him out of the lineup for the rest of the season. Mathis’s defensive pressure will likely be missed despite the backcourt rotation being much cleaner since his injury.
It’s weird to say that a matchup against a 9-10 and struggling Villanova team is the most important game of the season thus far. But it’s still Villanova, and it’s still Madison Square Garden.
With the exception of that Shamorie Ponds run against Duke and Villanova, St. John’s did what St. John’s does — lose in big games.
The intensity for St. John’s was there from the tip. This team occasionally just bends over at the waist for loose balls. Tonight, they were hitting the floor, and in some cases, jumping over the broadcast booth, for a chance at an extra possession.
Andre Curbelo kissing a fan in the crowd— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) January 21, 2023
The first half was not aesthetically pleasing to watch. It was largely Villanova’s structured offense of guys who can’t score against St. John’s unstructured high pick-and-roll and post-up offense.
Dylan Addae-Wusu was the most productive scorer for the Red Storm. Regardless of Twitter’s weird love-hate relationship with the junior guard, Addae-Wusu was good in catch and shoot situations putting up 10 points (3-4 FG, 2-3 3PT) while also picking up a pair of assists.
Defensively, St. John’s almost exclusively got burned from deep. Of the 9 field goals Villanova made, 7 of them were from deep. At the rim, the Wildcats were 1-6.
At the end of the first half, the teams were all tied up at the low score of 28-28.
St. John’s had a good stretch early in the second half expanding their lead to 6 points. The Johnnies had Villanova broken down on defense on one possession until the team kept getting the ball to O’Mar Stanley in the post only for him to not shoot it. It was like Will Ferrell’s Jackie Moon scene early in Semi-Pro except Jackie Moon eventually shot the ball.
Villanova clawed their way back after, taking a 1-point leading at the under-4 minute media timeout. At the worst time, the Red Storm went on one of their scoreless stretches, this one lasting for nearly 4 minutes.
Down 3 with a minute to play, St. John’s kept attacking the paint, getting to the rim where they were unable to finish with the refs (generally) letting the guys play in the paint. Unfortunately, the Red Storm were only able to score 3 points in the final 6 minutes.
Villanova’s Eric Dixon went to the line with the opportunity to put the game away, but only converted the second shot. Andre Curbelo turned the ball over leading to a Brandon Slater dunk, putting the game out of reach for the Johnnies.
Madison Square Garden filled with chants of “Let’s go ‘Nova” as time expired with the Red Storm losing 57-49, despite having plenty of opportunities to put this one out of reach.
Next, St. John’s heads out to Creighton on Wednesday at 9:00 PM.
St. John’s Red Storm
Joel Soriano: 14 points (4-11 FG), 16 rebounds
Dylan Addae-Wusu: 12 points (4-7 FG, 2-4 3PT), 3 rebounds, 4 assists
Caleb Daniels: 16 points (5-10 FG, 4-7 3PT), 2 rebounds, 1 assist
Brandon Slater: 14 points (5-7 FG, 0-1 3PT), 4 rebounds, 1 assist