After erasing an 11-point second half deficit and pulling ahead in the closing seconds of regulation, the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team fell to Connecticut, 86-78, in overtime on Wednesday night at Gampel Pavilion.
The Red Storm (9-5, 1-2 BIG EAST) moved ahead by one, 71-70, on a Julian Champagnie 3-pointer with four seconds remaining in regulation. After a lengthy official review, Adama Sanogo went 1-for-2 from the line with one second remaining to force overtime.
Champagnie scored the first bucket of the extra period before the Huskies broke the game open with an 11-0 run. Five of those UConn points came from free throw line.
Champagnie led the way for St. John’s with 27 points, his seventh game of the season with 20 or more points in just 13 opportunities.
Aaron Wheeler added 13 points, seven rebounds and a pair of blocks, registering back-to-back games in double figures for the first time in his collegiate career. The graduate student connected on three of his six attempts from deep, including a crucial late-game triple from the corner to bring the Red Storm within one.
Posh Alexander posted his first career double-double, scoring 11 points, pulling down 10 boards. Alexander has now reached double figures 13 times in as many opportunities this season.
Sanogo logged 26 points, 18 rebounds and six blocks for the Huskies (11-4, 2-2 BIG EAST). As a team, the Huskies registered 14 rejections.
St. Johns was called for 26 fouls on Wednesday. The Huskies were assessed 13.
The Red Storm weathered a number of UConn runs in the opening half. An 8-0 UConn spurt put the Huskies up five, 15-10, with 12:12 to go, but a Stef Smith trey and a Champagnie bucket quickly knotted the score at 15. A few minutes later, a 7-0 UConn burst put the Huskies back on top by five before a 7-2 Red Storm run leveled the game at 27.
Trailing by five, 36-31, at the break, St. John’s saw the Huskies quickly balloon their lead in the latter stanza, moving ahead by double digits with less than five minutes gone in the half.
Down 50-39 following a Sanogo dunk with 14:55 to go, the Red Storm held UConn scoreless for the next 4:51. The Johnnies, however, managed only six points over that span, trimming the deficit to five near the midway mark of the half.
UConn moved back ahead by 10, 60-50, with six and a half minutes to play before a 12-4 St. John’s run brought the Red Storm within two, 64-62, on a Champagnie trey with 3:58 to go.
The Huskies responded with four straight to move back ahead by six before Champagnie connected on his third 3-pointer of the night to make it a one-possession game once again. Following a 1-for-2 trip to the line from Isaiah Whaley, Wheeler drained a trey from the corner to bring the Johnnies within one, 69-68, with a minute left.
Another 1-for-2 trip to the line for UConn with 14 seconds left put the Huskies up two before Champagnie banged home a closely contested triple on the other end to give the Red Storm its first lead since the 9:30 mark of the first half.
Needing to go the length of the floor with 4.8 seconds to play, UConn threw an inbounds pass into the front court that deflected off a St. John’s player and went out of bounds. After a lengthy review to determine the correct time on the clock, Tyrese Martin put up a jumper that missed its mark, but Sanogo grabbed the offensive board before drawing a foul and earning a trip to the line. The sophomore made the first, but missed the second to send it into overtime.
UConn went 4-for-5 from the field and 7-for-7 from the line in the extra period to seal its second BIG EAST victory.
The Red Storm will return to action on Sunday at Madison Square Garden when it takes on longtime BIG EAST rival Georgetown. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m. on FOX.
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