The St. John’s Men’s Basketball team suffered its first loss of the season on Wednesday night, falling to BYU, 74-68, at Mohegan Sun Arena in the Roman Legends Classic presented by Old Trapper.
Julian Champagnie once again led the way for St. John’s (3-1), scoring 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting to go along with five rebounds and three assists. The sophomore, who tallied 29 points and 10 boards in his season debut on Monday against Boston College, has now eclipsed the 20-point plateau in four of his last five games dating back to last season.
Isaih Moore reached double figures for the second time in four appearances as a Johnnie, scoring 11 points with two blocks and a steal. The former NJCAA All-American made four of his six shot attempts from inside the three-point arc.
Logging 35 minutes of playing time for the second straight game, Greg Williams Jr. registered another complete showing, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Despite scoring only four points, freshman guard Posh Alexander made his presence felt in other ways, dishing out a game-high seven assists to go with six rebounds and a pair of steals. Fellow freshman Dylan Addae-Wusu, Alexander’s former high school teammate, scored eight points and recorded two thefts before fouling out.
As a team, St. John’s turned 19 BYU turnovers into 23 points, but it wasn’t enough to slow a 3-point barrage that saw the Cougars connect on 10 triples. St. John’s, on the other hand, went just 4-for-21 from beyond the arc.
Trailing 9-5 with five and half minutes gone in the game, St. John’s unleashed a 7-0 run to move ahead by three with 12:28 to play in the period.
From there, the Johnnies went cold, going more than seven minutes without a field goal and watching BYU score 12 unanswered points to take a 21-12 lead with seven minutes remaining in the half.
The Red Storm would score the game’s next five points to pull within four, but that was as close as St. John’s would get for the rest of half, entering the intermission with a 29-23 deficit.
St. John’s quickly cut into the BYU lead on the other side of the break, getting back-to-back stops to start the half and trimming the deficit to one, 29-28, with less than a minute gone in the action. During that sequence, Champagnie converted on an old-fashioned three-point play while Moore threw down a thunderous dunk on the fast break.
A few minutes later, St. John’s used a 7-0 tear to tie game at 43, but BYU answered with 13-4 spurt of its own to move ahead by nine with 9:45 remaining, matching its largest lead of the game to that point.
St. John’s quickly responded with a 7-0 run to slash the Cougar advantage down to two, 56-54, with 7:17 to play, but that was as close as the Red Storm would get down the stretch, as BYU scored 14 of the game’s next 20 points to take its only double-digit lead of the night with just over two minutes to go.
The Red Storm will close out pre-conference play with a pair of games at Carnesecca Arena beginning on Sunday when the Johnnies welcome Stony Brook for a 2:30 p.m. contest on FS1. Two days later on Dec. 8, St. John’s will play host to Rider on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m.
St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson
“First of all, I congratulate BYU. I thought they came in and imposed their will. I thought they were much more physical than we are. I thought they had a little bit more experience than we did. … We got down, but it’s a six-point game at halftime. I thought we came out with the right energy, the right mindset [in the second half]. The game went back and forth but they held their poise. Give them credit, they made some big shots. That’s a team that can shoot the basketball. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. We shot 19 percent from three-point land and I know we’re a much better shooting team than that. I think they made 10 threes, but hats off to them. We’ll just have to regroup and learn from it. Even when it was a four-point game and we’ve got them at the free throw line with 40 seconds to go, we’ve got to get that rebound and make a play at the other end. But give them credit, they made the plays, and we’ll learn from it.”
On his message to the team at halftime…
“Let’s play together, let’s stay together. Let’s play how we’ve been playing. We’re a team that shares the basketball, we play unselfish. We hang our hats on our defense and we came out and I believe that’s what you saw. … They answered the call as we mounted the comeback. … The message was, let’s play basketball the way we practice every day.
On the team’s play tonight…
“The thing we prided ourselves on yesterday in practice was playing unselfishly on offense and defense and tonight we were stagnant at times. Sometimes the ball stopped and when that takes place, I think we got out of sync. Then you put so much pressure on your defense and I thought our defense was good enough, but the flow on offense wasn’t great. In terms of maturity, I don’t think they panicked as the game was going back and forth down to the last couple of minutes. We had some plays where we just needed some patience to bring it down and execute and get to the free throw line to stop the bleeding and we didn’t. We went in there hoping that the official would make a call and it didn’t take place. We had some adversity and I didn’t think that we responded the right way. Our bench has been playing well and I don’t think they played well today. As a matter of fact, I think we got outscored on our bench, so it is one of those games where we have to regroup and continue to figure out the winning formula.”
On the shot selection tonight…
“We should have attacked more. I thought we settled. Sometimes they leave you open for a reason and I didn’t think we had the patience. We did much better in the second half. I think we only had four or five assists at halftime and we ended up with a lot more. There was more continuity and we shared the ball [in the second half]. Our defense was good enough and as bad as we played in the first half, this was only a six-point game. I thought we got caught up a little bit and took ill-advised shots, that’s why I said I thought we were stagnant. The second half there was a lot better flow.”
On the impact of playing two games in three nights…
“Well, it is something these guys hadn’t been through. I thought we had some open looks, but some of the shots we took were lesser shots. … Again, what I liked was our defense, it was good enough. … We have been going for five days and this was these guys first experience of that. You are playing game after game and we had some guys play extended minutes. Julian [Champagnie] played over 30 minutes again and he is just coming off an ankle injury. As a matter of fact, he just said his chest is hurting a little bit from being tired. But maybe we get home, get a little bit of home-cooking and get finals over with the next few days and get ready for the game on Sunday.”
On Julian Champagnie’s performance through two games…
“I think all of the work he has put in in the offseason has paid off. He is playing with the confidence that he played with last year, he is playing with the same ‘pop.’ I said the other day that he finished off the season pretty strong and I think that gave him confidence, so his confidence coming into this year was tremendous. It was disappointing that he got hurt to open the season, but that continues to be the making of player in how you handle that adversity. Now he is coming out and picking up where he left off and we are going to need that. He is becoming a leader on our basketball team and we are going to continue to need him to step up to the plate.”
St. John’s Sophomore Forward Julian Champagnie
On his feeling of whether or not the team could come back over the final few minutes…
“Regardless of the lead or not, I feel like we can overcome any deficit we are in. I don’t like to think negatively, especially with my teammates or myself. I always think we can come back. We weren’t too far behind.”
On how he feels about being the go-to guy on the team…
“I don’t think about that honestly and truly. I tell my teammates all the time, win, lose or draw, there’s one team. It’s us together, so I don’t really think about being ‘that guy.’ … That’s not something that I like to think about.”
On what was missing in the first half…
“I think what we were missing was us using our heads to be honest. Taking practice to the game. Personnel wise, I mean yes, we miss [Rasheem Dunn], but we have who we have, and we have to work with who we have right now. I feel like personnel wise; we were fine. We just didn’t come out and execute the way we were supposed to. We looked disjointed. That was kind of the message that we got and that’s just what that is. I feel like what we were missing was us being together honestly.”
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