St. John's won't be playing for hardware in Charleston on Sunday, as the Johnnies fell to the Murray State Racers, 72-67, in the Charleston Classic semifinal. St. John's will face the Baylor Bears on Sunday afternoon at 6:00 PM, on ESPNU.
D`Angelo Harrison led the Red Storm with 27 points on 8-21 shooting (with 9 rebounds), and freshman JaKarr Sampson added 14 points and 7 rebounds. Murray State had four players score in double-digits, paced by guard Stacy Wilson (21 points, 13 in the second half).
As expected, St. John's (2-1) and Murray State (3-0) got out to a quick pace early. The Johnnies took an early 13-4 lead, and led by double digits for most of the first half.
Despite falling into early double-digit deficit, Murray State remained diligent on the defensive end. They didn't allow St. John's many clean looks as the game went on, and the game became close down the stretch.
But in the second half, both teams tightened the defensive screws. As he was able to in the season opener, Harrison attempted to take over the game for St. John's offensively.
Solid interior play by Murray State big man Ed Daniel led a Racer charge that evened them with St. John's with six minutes left.
"It was a punch-counterpunch game, where we threw a punch and they threw a punch. They ended up landing the haymaker," St. John's coach Steve Lavin said after the game. The Racers forced 8 second half turnovers and restricted St. John's to 2/14 shooting on the night.
Murray State shot 5/12 from beyond the arc in the second half, making a handful of clutch three-pointers late to take a six-point lead over St. John's. After Harrison made a three at the other end, Murray State got a key defensive stop followed by an easy Wilson slam to seal it.
Murray State star guard and defending Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year Isaiah Canaan scored 17 points. Daniel added 15 for the Racers.
Marc-Antoine Bourgault was in class at St. John's early on Friday, but found himself eating lunch on a plane and then entering the Charleston Classic semifinal with 11 minutes left in the first half. After missing the first two games of the season, Bourgault was declared eligible to join the team before they faced the Racers. He didn't score.
Outside of Harrison and Sampson, St. John's players struggled to score against the Racers. Amir Garrett and Phil Greene combined for 9 points against the pressing Racer man-to-man. Felix Balamou added six in a first half scoring spurt. Chris Obekpa added 6 blocks.