With the season on the line and the seniors careers' possibly coming to a close, St. John's entered Friday night's game against San Diego State with the desire to extend their season and win the programs' first NCAA Tournament game since 2000.
In the end, the Johnnies were unable to move past the Aztecs, losing 76 to 64, in Charlotte on Friday night in the second round of the tournament.
D'Angelo Harrison, in what turned out to be an emotional final game at the school, led the Johnnies with 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting while Sir'Dominic Pointer added 21 points and 10 rebounds. Rysheed Jordan scored 10 points, and played solid defensively showing his quick hands, grabbing three steals - when he wasn't on the bench with foul trouble. Phil Greene IV put up 9 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
J.J. O'Brien, 18 points, and Dwayne Polee II, 15 points, played their best offensive games of the season while Skylar Spencer, 10 points, was also impressive.
In the opening half, the Aztecs had a surprising offensive explosion, despite ranking 305th in the country in points per game. They shot 47 percent from the field, hit 7-of-16 threes (44 percent) and Lavin's first recruit Dwayne Polee had nine points.
The Johnnies actually out-scored San Diego State in the paint in the first half and also were solid in the paint without suspended big man Chris Obekpa as they tied in rebounding category (17 to 17 at the break).
Jordan picked up his second foul less than two minutes into the game, was subbed up a little while later and sat the rest of the first frame. Christian Jones and Amar Alibegovic were left to pick up some slack and failed to make any impact as the Johnnies went into halftime down seven.
In the second half, the Johnnies were flying around everywhere and the effort level at an all time high but that was not enough to notch a victory. O'Brien, Spencer and Malik Pope used their size advantage in the post to overwhelm Steve Lavin's squad and they uncharacteristically continued to knock down their outside shots.
The Johnnies didn't have enough depth either as Lavin did not sub the entire second frame, leaving the Aztecs in a perfect position to wear them down.
St. John's shot 46 percent from the field for the game, only 18 percent from three and 7/11 (63%) percent from the free throw stripe. They were out-rebounded 40 to 32 and had 6 assists on 27 made shots (22% of shots assisted).
The Aztecs length and defensive prowess was very impressive; they blocked three shots, got five steals and forced 10 St. John's turnovers.
The Johnnies will move into the offseason with plenty of questions surrounding the program. With only one top recruit, questions about Lavin, issues with Obekpa and the possibility of Jordan bouncing into the NBA it will be an offseason with plenty of storylines.