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St. John’s Stumbles, Falls to Providence in Big East Tourney

Rysheed Jordan. Photo by: Stacy Podelski/1495 Sports

Rysheed Jordan. Photo by: Stacy Podelski/1495 Sports

The St. John’s Red Storm saw their chances of winning a Big East Tournament title end early with a disappointing 74-57 loss to Providence Thursday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. The loss dropped St. John’s record for the season to 21-11.

The Red Storm struggled to score throughout the game. After jumping out to an early 7-0 lead in the first 2:50 of the game, St. John’s shooting went dry and they never recovered. As a team, the Red Storm went 10:05 without scoring from the floor and missed 14 consecutive shots during that stretch.

Providence took advantage of St. John’s poor shooting and went on an 18-0 run. The Friars had complete control of the game after that and although St. John’s had some small runs, they were unable to serious threaten to get back into the contest.

LaDontae Henton. Photo by: Stacy Podelski/1495 Sports

LaDontae Henton. Photo by: Stacy Podelski/1495 Sports

Four Friars scored in double digits led by LaDontae Henton who finished with a game-high 20 points. Kris Dunn finished close behind with 17 points. Tyler Harris (15 points) and Ben Bentil (14 points) also finished in double digits for Providence.

Rysheed Jordan led the Red Storm with 18 points and was their only player to reach double digits for St. John’s.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the results today,” said St. John’s Head  Coach Steve Lavin. “Our aggressiveness was not at the level it’s been at when we’ve had success this year.”

The biggest illustration of the Red Storm’s lack of fortitude this afternoon was rebounding. Providence controlled the boards and outrebounded St. John’s 49-36 for the game. The Friars also won most of the battles for 50-50 balls.

Shooting was another major obstacle for the Red Storm. As a team, St. John’s shot only 31 percent for the game including an embarrassing 26.7 percent in the first half. The second half shooting was slightly better, but by then, the game was more or less out of reach.

Providence led 40-27 at the half and was never seriously challenged after the break. Each time it seemed the Red Storm was about to make things interesting, they turned the ball over or watched their shooting go cold again. Their defense also failed to come up with big stops at key times.

“We tried to get it [the lead] under 10,” Lavin said, “but for the most part after that 7-0 run to start the game, after the run they went on, we were never really in contention…I thought we were tentative, hesitant and lacked aggression.”

Lavin tried to deflect criticism away from his team and looked forward to their “next game,” which will presumably be in the NCAA Tournament.

“You can’t get carried away,” Lavin added. “You have to get ready and address the deficiencies and turn the focus to improving as a team, especially in the post season. I think this team is still capable of doing something special.”

With the win,fourth-seeded Providence advances to the semifinals against top-seeded Villanova at 7 pm on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Meanwhile, St. John’s awaits to hear who they will play in the NCAA Tournament. Certainly, losing their first Big East Tournament contest won’t help their seeding on “Selection Sunday.”

A strong performance in the NCAA Tournament would certainly help put the bad memory of tonight’s performance behind the Red Storm in a hurry. Now they just have to go out and do just that.

1495 Sports is proud to bring the following postgame videos:

Providence Men’s Basketball

Featuring:

Head Coach Ed Cooley, Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton

St. John’s Men’s Basketball Postgame:

Featuring

Head Coach Steve Lavin and Phil Greene IV and Jamal Branch

For more information on the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

http://www.redstormsports.com

For more information on the Providence Men’s Basketball team fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

http://www.friars.com

For more information on the BIG EAST Conference fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

http://www.bigeast.com

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