The St. John’s men’s basketball team suffered an 81-65 defeat at the hands of No. 16/14 Seton Hall on Sunday at the Prudential Center.
The Red Storm fell to 14-13, 3-11 in BIG EAST action, with the loss while Seton Hall improved to 20-7 overall, 12-3 in conference play.
LJ Figueroa led the way for St. John’s with 19 points on 6-of-17 shooting, including a 4-for-9 effort from three-point range. The junior wing also went 3-for-3 from the charity stripe and collected four rebounds.
Julian Champagnie recorded a double-double for the third time this season and the second time in his last five games, finishing with 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Champagnie scored in double figures for the fourth time in his last five outings, a stretch that has seen the freshman average 12.0 points and 8.0 rebounds.
Two Johnnies collected double-digit rebounds for just the second time this season, as sophomore Josh Roberts posted eight points and 10 boards in the loss.
Rasheem Dunn tallied 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals for the Red Storm.
As a team, St. John’s shot just 33.8 percent (24-of-71) from the field, including a 5-for-20 showing from three-point range. The Johnnies were incredibly efficient from the charity stripe, going 12-of-13 on free throw opportunities.
The St. John’s basket featured a tight lid in the early going, as the Red Storm made just three of its opening 20 shot attempts and fell behind by 14, 20-6, with nine minutes to play in the first half.
The Johnnies rebounded by making three of their next four tries from the floor, but Seton Hall sank three straight of their own to move ahead by as many as 17, 27-10, with six and a half minutes to go in the opening period.
A pair of Figueroa triples sparked a 10-3 St. John’s run to pull the Red Storm within 10, 30-20, with 2:21 to play before the Pirates took a 36-22 lead into the locker room.
The Red Storm wasted no time cutting into its deficit after the break, kicking off the second half with seven unanswered and clawing within seven, 36-29. Rutherford began the spurt with a layup before Figueroa added a three-point play and Roberts capped it with a 2-for-2 trip to the line.
Leading by nine following a Champagnie three-point play with four and a half minutes gone in the second half, Seton Hall rattled off a 10-3 run, to moved ahead by 16, 53-37, just over two minutes later.
The Pirates’ advantage stayed in the same neighborhood for the next 10 minutes before a 9-0 run ballooned the Seton Hall lead to as many as 23 with just over three minutes remaining. St. John’s responded with a 11-0 spurt of its own to move within 12, but that was as close as the Johnnies would get.
The Red Storm will close out its ranked road swing on Wednesday against No. 12/13 Villanova. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. on FS1 and 570 AM WMCA.
St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson
“You can see that [Seton Hall] is experienced playing together. … [Sandro Mamukelashvili] came in and is really helping them right now. He’s a good basketball player. … They’ve got a lot of talent on that team. … As bad as we played in the first half, we turned it over, we missed layups, a few air balls, the nerves were going, but I thought in the second half we came out with a bit more fight in us. We cut it down to single digits and then they would make a big play. That’s what good teams do. Can’t knock the effort of our guys we just went against a better team today.”
On Seton Hall’s potential in the postseason…
“They’ve got a good team. They’ve got a really good team. Knock on wood, they don’t get anybody hurt, they’ve got a chance.”
On the game…
“I thought we came out on our heels and you can’t do that against [Seton Hall]. … They were playing at home and they played with a lot of confidence. … I thought we played better in the second half, but then they got it going and they had a lot of highlight plays. That’s one thing I didn’t like, we gave up too many dunks at the end.”
On LJ FIgueroa…
“He’s trying to help out our basketball team any way he can. … You got to remember he doesn’t have that other leading scorer [Mustapha Heron] on [the court]. We have to get [scoring from different guys] and we didn’t get it today. Julian [Champagnie] and Josh [Roberts], I thought those guys played well for us today. Josh was pretty active and I thought Julian continues to come on for our basketball team.”
On the team’s margin for error without Mustapha Heron…
“I always say that we have to make up for [Mustapha Heron] with other guys. I always say you find out your team in adversity. ‘Can you travel with your offense?’ ‘Can you travel with your defense?’ Evidently, we didn’t today. … [Heron has] played four years and has scored a bunch of points. Yeah, you miss that, but you can’t sit back and cry about it. We haven’t. I’m just going with guys that are fighting. They’re giving themselves a chance.”
St. John’s Forward Julian Champagnie
On the team’s struggles early in the game…
“I just thought today we didn’t come out of the gate. … We didn’t execute plays that we wanted to and we shot pretty poorly today. Seton Hall just came out with more energy.”
On Sandro Mamukelashvili’s impact…
“I though he helped [Seton Hall] a lot. He brought a lot of energy to the table. [Grabbed] rebounds and had a couple of dunks. I just felt like we were prepared to play them but weren’t prepared for him to go off like that.”
On the height disadvantage against Seton Hall…
“It means your defense has to play small. At the end of the day it’s about heart. Unfortunately, we’re not the tallest team but we have a lot of heart. Regardless whether we’re the shortest team on the court or the tallest team on the court we have to come out and play hard.”
On if the team is trending upward…
“The last couple of games I feel like we’ve took steps forward. Even though we’ve lost two of the last three games, I thought we took steps forward. We’re coming together as a team. In the Xavier game we played well for 30 minutes. Those last two minutes we kind of gave it away. Stuff like that helps us learn how to close out games. Right now, it’s still a learning process. We’re still a young team.”
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