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St. John’s averts second-half disaster, beats Providence, 75-73

St. John’s nearly blows a second double-digit lead, but they prevailed

Chris Hagan

This game was closer than it had any good reason to be, and St. John’s were running out of toes to shoot off in the closing seconds, but what matters most is that they have beaten Providence.

The first twenty minutes hinted towards yet another shellacking of a conference foe. A fired-up Brady Dunlap scored six of the Red Storm’s first nine points to lead them to a 9-0 start in the first 2:33 of game time. Daniss Jenkins caught fire, with his 11-point first-half performance typifying a red-hot first half from the field for the Red Storm.

St. John’s held a 40-29 halftime lead, at one point leading by 15. They didn’t need Joel Soriano, who made his first shot with only 2:01 remaining in the first half. If it weren’t for Providence’s ability to take advantage of 14 of their first-stanza points coming off turnovers or second-chance opportunities, it could have been uglier.

Then Providence and St. John’s went on inverse paths. Jayden Pierre and Ticket Gaines found gaps in the Red Storm’s zone defense and bombarded St. John’s from deep. Devin Carter was flying up and down the court for fastbreak buckets. St. John’s went ice cold out of the halftime break, going 1-of-8 from the field to start and allowing a 16-4 run to give Providence their first lead of the night at 45-44. The traveling Friar fans were charged up, erupting in a “Let’s Go Friars” chant.

However, this St. John’s team is different from previous ones, and they have displayed that they can respond to adversity. Immediately after relinquishing the lead, St. John’s quickly built a double-digit lead on a 13-3 run, highlighted by Daniss Jenkins’s corner three that sent every Red Storm fan out of their seats. A second chance Nahiem Alleyne three-pointer and a made free throw by Chris Ledlum built the Red Storm’s lead back up to 13.

But Providence kept crawling back. Devin Carter was a force of nature, scoring a career-high 31 points and flagging down 13 rebounds, and he was not allowing the Friars to go down quietly. His late-game heroism whittled the Red Storm lead down to one with ten seconds remaining.

The Red Storm’s sudden chilliness at the line almost doomed them. They went 3-of-8 on free throws in the final 1:08 of play. Brady Dunlap missed both free throws at the end of this game, but R.J. Luis pulled down his eighth and most important rebound of the night to avoid catastrophe. Yet, Luis couldn’t seal the deal by splitting his two free throws. With 4.7 seconds on the clock and a narrow lead, Jayden Pierre’s desperation heave from 40 feet out fell short, clinching a St. John’s win that was more difficult than it ought to be.

Notable performers

Daniss Jenkins: 16 points (6/12 FG, 4/5 3P), 8 assists, 4 rebounds,

Joel Soriano: 16 points (4/8 FG), 7 rebounds, 1 block

R.J. Luis: 12 points (3/7 FG, 6/8 FT), 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block

Brady Dunlap: 9 points (4/8 FG, 1/3 3P), 2 rebounds, 1 steal

Up next

On Saturday afternoon, the men’s basketball team travels to Omaha, Nebraska, to face the Creighton Bluejays (12-4, 3-2) on FOX. The Bluejays have won their last three games, including an 84-58 road drubbing of DePaul in their previous outing on Tuesday night.