st. John’s was finally supposed to be looking down at local rival Seton Hall. The Red Storm entered the season with the highly regarded transfers, one of the top returning players in the Big East and an established coach.
That, of course, was only on paper. Reality has been a different story. The Red Storm haven’t come close this season to resembling the group that was supposed to compete for an NCAA Tournament Berth. Their disappointing play continued Wednesday night, while the Pirates’ surge under first-year coach Shaheen Holloway took another step forward.
st. John’s blew a 13-point first half lead and was overwhelmed over the final 10 minutes in a dismal 84-72 loss in front of 4,977 at Carnesecca Arena that further cast doubt on coach Mike Anderson’s future at the school.
One of those aforementioned transfers, Andre Curbelo, was ejected early in the second half after being assessed consecutive technical fouls. And the Red Storm’s point guard, Posh Alexander, was outplayed by fellow Brooklyn native Kadary Richmond from the Pirates.
“I just think we haven’t really come together and played at the level you gotta play at consistently,” Anderson said. “We just haven’t played the type of basketball I want us to play, to put it bluntly.”
Three days after St. John’s (14-9, 4-8) narrowly escaped what would have been a disastrous home defeat to dreadful Georgetown, it returned to its losing ways by again failing to do the little things. The Red Storm committed 17 turnovers that led to 28 Seton Hall points, missed 10 free throws and were hammered in the paint, 42-32, by the smaller Pirates.
Anderson was critical of his team’s inability to limit its turnovers and to handle Seton Hall’s zone. Decision-making, he said a few times, was not up to par. The Red Storm were far too often undisciplined and disorganized at both ends of the floor, out-executed by the far more patient Pirates (14-9, 7-5), who outscored St. John’s by 25 points over the game’s final 24:19. The Pirates piled up 52 points after halftime on a robust 56.3 percent shooting.
“You got to be able to defend, you got to be able to make shots, you got to be able to make free throws and you got to take advantage of momentum when you get it,” Anderson said after his team fell to just one. game out of 10th place in the Big East and lost for the third time in four games.
AJ Storr led St. John’s with 15 points, Alexander had 13 and David Jones scored 11. Joel Soriano’s recent struggles continued in a 2-for-8 shooting performance he described as “soft.”
Al-Amir Dawes scored 21 points and Richmond notched 15 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists to lead Seton Hall. The Pirates have now won seven of nine games in a stretch that began with a dominant win in Newark over St. Louis. John’s. In fact, the Pirates’ two largest scoring outputs this season, 88 and 84 points, have come against the Red Storm.
After Storr hit two free throws with 4:19 left in the first half, St. John’s was up by 13. Seton Hall scored 22 of the next 27 points, however, to go ahead. A few possessions later, emotions escalated between the two teams. After a made layup, Curbelo and the Pirates’ KC Ndefo were given double techniques for jawing with each other. Curbelo then received a second one for spiking his glasses with 13:35 left and St. John’s up two.
That seemed to initially galvanize St. John’s, which scored seven of the next nine points to go up by seven. But, in this frustrating season in which so little has gone right, that didn’t last long. Seton Hall’s counterpunch laid out the Red Storm, sending them to another demoralizing defeat.
Obviously, we had a situation that took place, starting guard, and now he’s out of the game. You got to have someone else step up, and we didn’t answer the call,” Anderson said. That falls on me as the head coach. It starts with me.”
Sophomore Rafael Pinzon (ankle) remained out for St. John’s. Seton Hall was without junior wing Dre Davis (ankle).