St. John's dropped a heartbreaker 62-61 to Seton Hall on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Sunday's game was a tale of two halves for St. John's - St. John's was outscored by 14 in the first half but stormed back to outscore the Hall by 13. However, Chris Mullin summed it up best saying, "I was really proud. I thought, in my mind, we played well enough to win. I thought we deserved to win."
Here are the three takeaways from the tough loss, a loss that could have been avoided with fewer preventable St. John's miscues.
Was the game over before it all began?
Today's game certainly seemed to be on track for another blowout loss for the Red Storm. The Pirates raced out of the gate and scored the game's first 13 points. Seton Hall took a 16-4 lead into the under-16 minute media timeout in the first half. Desi Rodriguez continued his hot play.
He scored 9 of his team's first thirteen including two three point field goals and a traditional three point play. The Lincoln High School standout finished with 24 points. Seton Hall's largest lead was 19 points and they look a 14 point lead into the locker room.
However, the Johnnies opened the second half with an 8-0 run to cut the Hall lead to 6 points. This began the comeback. For Chris Mullin's team, their successful second half was attributed to defense and effort. The team's interior defense was spectacular. They even held Seton Hall without a field goal for over six and a half minutes. The Red Storm combined for 10 blocks in total, and Kassoum Yakwe had 4 and Yankuba Sima added 3.
Also, Malik Ellison should be credited with great defense on Isaiah Whitehead. The 6'6" New Jersey freshman held Whitehead to 1-12 shooting from the field.
The two teams combined for 36 turnovers - nearly a turnover per minute. St. John's accounted for 21 of the 36. In a one possession game, it is cliche for both teams to say they could have had different outcomes if they valued the ball more, but it is true in this case. Seton Hall was able to score 21 points off turnovers, while the Red Storm were only able to muster 8 points off Seton Hall's 15 turnovers.
Also, the team was dreadful from the free throw line. The Red Storm shot 10-24 from the charity stripe for 42 percent. More than turnovers, this truly was the difference in the game. It was an ironic way for the Red Storm to lose because the Fox Sports 1 telecast mentioned Chris Mullin as the national free throw shooting champion.
He was a very bright spot for the Johnnies. The freshman from Mali finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Also, he blocked four shots in 33 minutes. He is making a late push to make the All-Big East Rookie team.
On the season, Yakwe is averaging 7.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. In the last five games, the Our Savior New American product has averaged 11.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3 blocks.