|Providence's Nate Watson puts one up. Photo courtesy of St. John's.|
St. John's suffered one of their toughest losses of the season, as they fell to the Providence Friars, 78-59, on Wednesday night. This was the second time in 11 days Providence beat the Red Storm in dominating fashion.
St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin was asked afterwards if he will watch the game film, and he said, “Actually we already have this on film from the last time we played Providence. So it’s the same game, part two. We made the same amount of field goals. (22) I just thought that we were really lethargic. We had times where we had closeouts to drive and we didn’t. That’s our advantage. [Providence’s advantage] is to post up. They took advantage of it and we didn’t. Spacing and driving is just as dangerous as posting up.”
St. John's guard Mustapha Heron said, “They played harder than us. It was similar to the first game and it was the same result.”
This was quite a letdown for St. John's after their stirring win over defending national champion Villanova on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Villanova also lost on Wednesday night, as they fell to Georgetown, 85-73. This was the Hoyas' first game since last Wednesday's loss at Seton Hall, what their head coach Patrick Ewing termed "one of our worst losses in my two years here."
St. John's fell to 7-7, tied with Seton Hall for third place in the Big East. Seton Hall lost to Xavier, 70-69, and the local rivals face off at Madison Square Garden this Saturday night.
Villanova fell out of first place in the Big East, as they dropped to 11-3, while Marquette improved to 11-2 with a 79-69 win at home over Butler.
Providence was led by Nate Watson, who had 21 points on 8-12 shooting, with 9 rebounds, including 4 on the offensive end, just missing a double-double. He also had a block and a steal.
Alpha Diallo had 16 points (4-14 FG, 8-11 free throws) and 11 rebounds to give him a double-double, and he also had 3 assists and a steal.
Malek White and Isaiah Jackson each had 11 points off the bench. White shot 4-7 overall, including 3-5 on three-pointers, with 4 steals, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Jackson shot 3-8 overall (2-5 on threes), along with 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
St. John's was led by LJ Figueroa, who had 16 points (7-19 FG, 2-4 threes), 4 rebounds, 4 steals, and an assist. Justin Simon had 10 points (3-6 FG), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. A big surprise off the bench, Marcellus Earlington had 10 points on 4-6 shooting, with 5 rebounds in 11 minutes.
Point guard Shamorie Ponds had one of his toughest games of the season, as he was held to 4 points (2-9 FG, 0-3 threes), with 5 assists and 4 rebounds.
Providence came out firing, racing out to a 9-0 lead and keeping St. John's off the board for the first six-plus minutes until Figueroa hit a three-pointer at the 13:21 mark of the first half.
The Friars went up 12, at 25-13, on Diallo free throws at the 6:26 mark, but St. John's pulled within three, 28-25, on a Figueroa dunk at 1:49. Providence took a 34-26 lead into the half.
Providence opened the second half on a 7-2 run capped by Diallo free throws at the 17:28 mark. They kept it going from there, and eventually went up by 25 points, 64-39, on a Maliek White layup with 10:18 remaining.
The lead ballooned to 28, at 74-46, with 4:31 left on a Diallo layup, and the closest St. John's got down the stretch was 19 points, 78-59, the final score.
Mullin said of understanding today’s performance after Sunday’s win, “It’s hard to understand. It’s hard to figure out. We just have to put it behind us. We have four games left. We need to regroup and play a good game on Saturday. That’s the most important thing.”
On if the slow start indicated it could be a long night, Mullin said, “The guys we play, we could get back in the game. … We came out in the second half passive and unaggressive. … We didn't put an imprint on the game and they dominated us physically start to finish.”
Heron, who was held to 8 points on 2-9 shooting, with 5 assists and 3 rebounds, said of trying to find consistency, “We talk about it every day. We talk about showing up every day with consistent effort and try to play hard. Today we didn’t have that and we have to focus on tomorrow.”
On trying to bounce back from an 0-8 start shooting from the field, Heron said, “We have high-level players. When things aren’t going well, everybody is going to try to do something to make it better. We just have to look at where we made our first mistakes.”