On a night when St. John’s welcomed back one of their stars of the past in Posh Alexander, it was a budding player for the future that took control of the game. When Chris Ledlum hobbled to the bench after tweaking his hurt ankle in the early stages of the first half, Brady Dunlap took his spot on the floor and seized the opportunity. In 28 minutes off the bench, the freshman from California scored 13 points, went 3-for-5 from three, and hustled for rebounds and loose balls, while an infectious four-syllable chant of his name rang throughout Carnesecca Arena.
Such a performance lifted St. John’s to a 86-70 win over Butler late Tuesday night in an emotional performance. Joel Soriano and Chris Ledlum outmuscled a Bulldogs team that has built their identity on grittiness, with each player crashing the basket possession after possession en route to double-double performances. Daniss Jenkins continued to stuff the stat sheet with 16 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals, all while only giving the ball away once. R.J. Luis dazzled with his acrobatic finishing, scoring 14 points in his second straight start.
WHAT A FINISH pic.twitter.com/Wc6vUvA2XZ— St. John's Men’s Basketball (@StJohnsBBall) January 3, 2024
Posh Alexander played with ferocity out of the gates, bowling his way around the court to the tune of 11 first half points. But it was not enough, and his 0-point second half reflected Butler’s inability to keep up their intensity for more than the first 20 minutes. Apart from D.J. Davis breaking ankles and racking up 25 points, the Bulldogs and their offense were left frustrated in the final stanza. That irritation bubbled over for head coach Thad Matta late in the game, who picked up two quick technicals after arguing with referee Brent Hampton.
As the final seconds on the clock ticked down, former teammates Joel Soriano and Posh Alexander — who were jawing at each other all game — embraced at half-court.
Up next for the 10-4 St. John’s men’s basketball squad is a road visit to Villanova on their on-campus home of Finneran Pavilion this Saturday, January 6th.