Playing its first true road game of the season, the St. John’s men’s basketball team struggled offensively in a 75-67 loss to Xavier at Cintas Center on Sunday.
St. John’s (11-4, 0-2 BIG EAST) converted on just 24 of its 68 field goal attempts (34.8%), including a season-worst 1-for-16 showing from three-point range. The Red Storm also toiled at the charity stripe, going 18-of-29 (62.1%).
The Johnnies exhibited their characteristic defensive pressure against the Musketeers, forcing Xavier (12-3, 1-1 BIG EAST) into 19 turnovers, 12 of which were the result of steals. The Red Storm, who entered the game ranked fourth nationally in steals per game, recorded 22 of its 67 points off Xavier turnovers.
The Red Storm surrendered just seven turnovers of their own, marking the team’s third straight effort of eight or fewer.
LJ Figueroa scored a team-high 17 points while Marcellus Earlington added 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with a team-high six rebounds. Earlington has now reached double figures in three of his last four outings.
Returning to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 10 after missing three games with a sprained right ankle, Mustapha Heron netted 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
Rasheem Dunn tallied eight points and a team-high four assists in 21 minutes of action.
After Naji Marshall scored the game’s first four points for Xavier, the Red Storm ripped off an 11-0 run to prompt a Musketeers timeout with just over six minutes gone in the contest. The Johnnies forced four turnovers on the tear, converting those miscues into six points.
Xavier slowly chipped away at the St. John’s lead, taking a 19-18 edge after a Tyrique Jones slam near the midway mark of the half.
The Musketeers climbed ahead by as many as six, 28-22, following a rough St. John’s shooting stretch, but the Red Storm rattled off six straight to knot the game at 28 with 2:26 to go in the half.
The two teams traded buckets the rest of the way, as the Musketeers took a two-point lead, 34-32, into the locker room.
Xavier scored the first seven points of the second half, climbing ahead by nine, 41-32, with just over two minutes elapsed in the period.
St. John’s would cut the deficit to five two minutes later, but the Red Storm’s shooting woes continued as Xavier moved ahead by double digits for the first time, 56-46, following a KyKy Tandy 3-pointer with 12 minutes to play.
Trailing by that same 10-point margin a short while later, the Red Storm rattled off six straight to pull within four, 59-55, with 8:16 remaining. St. John’s then went scoreless for the next five minutes, missing 11 straight field goal opportunities and watching Xavier register nine unanswered points to take its biggest lead of the night, 68-55, with 4:18 to play.
The Johnnies did not go down without a fight, getting as close as six, 73-67, following a Figueroa three-point play with 11 seconds to go.
The Red Storm will remain on the road and return to action on Wednesday at Georgetown. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on FS1 and 970 AM WNYM.
St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson
“Coming on the road, there are certain things that you have to do. You have to be able to shoot the basketball. We had 17 more shot attempts than they did. One for 16 from the three-point line. I don’t think that’s a reflection of our basketball team. … I thought the experience factor for Xavier was in full effect today.”
On the team’s three-point shooting struggles…
“I thought we just missed shots. … Some of the credit goes to Xavier. They contested shots, but I thought we had some looks that just did not go down. We also got a lot of shots getting to the basket. They were contested and we just didn’t finish.”
“[Naji Marshall] got 20 [points] tonight and eight rebounds for them. He’s an experienced guy. [Quentin Goodin] just runs the show for them. That’s what he does. [Paul Scruggs] hit some big shots and made some big plays for them. Of course, you’re always going to have an unsung hero and today it was [Kyky Tandy]. … He made some big shots and had some big momentum plays. I think they just play off each other well.”
On the BIG EAST…
“It’s a great league. There are a lot of teams that returned a lot of players. … There are some great coaches in the BIG EAST. As a player, you look forward to playing games in the BIG EAST, whether at home or on the road. … We’re just trying to find the right formula. … It’s a process. It’s something that you’ve got to go through. I thought our guys competed at the highest they could, but when you don’t make shots it’s kind of disappointing. I just know we’re a much better shooting team. … They held serve at home, that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
For more information on the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here: