The St. John’s Men’s Basketball team dropped its first game of the season at Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday, falling 84-79 to No. 22/25 Xavier (11-3, 3-0).
David Jones led four Johnnies in double figures with 19 points to go with 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Joel Soriano and Montez Mathis each scored 14 points while Posh Alexander added 11.
The Musketeers were led by grad student Jack Nunge, who finished with 23 points and 12 boards. The 7-foot center shot 10-of-14 from the field.
For the first time this season, St. John’s was outrebounded by its opponent, as the Musketeers held a 48-36 advantage on the glass.
St. John’s (11-3, 1-2) fell behind early with the Musketeers shooting 53.8 percent (21-39) from the field in the first half. After Jones gave the Johnnies their only lead of the game, 12-11, at the 15:38 mark on a dunk in transition, Xavier quickly scored 16-straight points over the next 2:39.
The Johnnies fell behind by 16 in the first half but trimmed the deficit to 48-37 by intermission. Jones had nine points at the break.
Xavier built its lead as large as 18 in the second half before Dylan Addae-Wusu’s second 3-pointer of the game triggered a 14-2 run for the Johnnies. St. John’s scored on five-straight possessions to trim the deficit to six with 6:42 to play. After Addae-Wusu’s triple, Mathis registered the next five points for the Johnnies before Jones and Andre Curbelo each finished in the paint. Alexander’s offensive rebound and put back capped the run to make it a 69-63 ballgame.
The Red Storm continued to battle down the stretch and cut Xavier’s lead to five, 84-79, on Jones’ third triple of the night with 26 seconds on the clock. After forcing a Musketeers’ turnover on the ensuing possession, St. John’s came up short on the offensive end as time ran out on its comeback bid.
St. John’s returns to action on Saturday in a New Year’s Eve showdown at Seton Hall (7-7, 0-3). Tip-off is slated for 12 p.m. at Prudential Center. FS1 will carry the national telecast.
St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed with the outcome of this game. Let’s take nothing away from Xavier, but I thought we dug ourselves a hole in that first half. [Xavier] was making the plays in the first half. I thought the extra-effort plays went their way in the first half. In the second half, we were much better. Let’s give them credit. I thought we didn’t play great, but we fought until the end.”
On the first half…
“I thought we came out with great energy. We missed a lot of shots, and they had a lot of second-effort plays. I thought our defense, especially on the pick-and-roll, was not very good. On the offensive end, we have to able to make shots.”
On the defensive pressure…
“The object was to put the pressure on, [but] I thought they did a good job of handling it early on.”
On how the team can improve…
“In BIG EAST play, it’s more physical. We have to continue to match the physicality of the game. One of the things I was really glad to see was the guys coming off the bench. I thought they gave us some great minutes.”
On the message to the team before going on a 14-2 run in the second half…
“I told them that we still had time on the clock. I thought we played some of our better basketball. I thought we got engaged defensively. We made it difficult for them.”
Senior Center Joel Soriano
On the last 10 minutes of the game…
“We had a sense of urgency. … We didn’t want to lose and wanted to protect our home court. I didn’t bring that energy and that’s on me.”
On difference in play from beginning to end…
“We look at the game and the last ten minutes we were playing hard. In the first half and the first five minutes of the second half we didn’t bring it. It’s a quick turnaround and we have to get ready for Seton Hall.”
On St. John’s next opponent, Seton Hall…
“We have a quick turnround. Seton Hall is a very good team. … They are a very well-coached team, and we have to come in with an attitude and execute against them.”
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