Tuesday, February 13, 2024

St. John's Can't Pull It Out Late In Providence


Daniss Jenkins goes up for a layup. @StJohnsBball.

The St. John's Red Storm had a slow start, a torrid finish to finish off the first half and another tough second half as they fell to the Providence Friars, 75-72, on Tuesday night.

This was a crushing loss for the Red Storm, as this drops them to 6-8 in Big East Conference play, and 14-11 overall, pushing their NCAA Tournament hopes in as much peril as they have been at any point this season. St. John's had started Big East play with a 4-1 record, so they have now dropped seven of their last nine games, including their last five contests on the road.

Providence, who nearly beat St. John's at Madison Square Garden on January 10, came out firing in this one, and raced to a 20-7 lead.

Still trailing by 13 points, at 28-15, halfway through the first half, St. John's closed the opening frame on a 23-5 run to take an improbable 38-33 lead into the half. They were backed by nine points off the bench from Sean Conway, who buried a trio of three-pointers; seven points from Daniss Jenkins, and Jordan Dingle chipped in six.

St. John's picked up where they left off to open the second half, and found themselves up seven, at 46-39, when Chris Ledlum buried a hook shot at the 17:45 mark.

Providence then went on a 10-2 run capped by a three-point play from Josh Oduro at 15:53. Eventually, they would go up seven, at 63-56, when Devonte Gaines drained a three-pointer at the 9:08 mark. 

Despite it appearing that Providence would maintain that lead the rest of the way, St. John's stunned them with an 8-1 run to tie the game at 70 on a Jenkins basket off a turnover with 1:37 left.

Corey Floyd Jr. responded with a layup to give Providence the lead back 11 seconds later, and they would hold on for the 75-72 win. 

The Friars shot 53.8 percent (14-26) in the second half, compared to St. John's shooting just 39.5 percent, or 15-38, in an all-too familiar story.

Providence was led by Josh Oduro, who poured in 28 points - an astonishing 26 of them came in the second half - on 9-16 from the field, 1-2 on three-pointers, and 9-10 on free throws, with four rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a +16, meaning Providence scored that many more points than St. John's when he was on the floor.

Devin Carter had 14 points (3-7 FG, 1-2 threes, 7-9 FT) and 11 rebounds to give him a double-double, with four assists and two steals. Davonte Gaines had 11 points (3-7 FG, 2-6 threes), with one rebound and a steal.

St. John's was led by RJ Luis Jr., who had 16 points, on 7-14 shooting (0-3 on threes), and 14 rebounds to give him a double-double, with two assists and a steal, but he committed five turnovers as well. Daniss Jenkins had 13 points (5-13 FG, 1-6 threes), three rebounds and three assists. Joel Soriano, in his first game coming off the bench this season, had nine points (3-8 FG), seven rebounds, and an assist.

PITINO POSTGAME: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media after another tough loss, and he opened with this statement: "This was a hard-fought game. You have to give Providence a lot of credit. They made their free throws down the stretch. As I looked up today during shootaround, I saw two things that made me proud. There were two Final Four [banners], 1973, I played against them, and, of course, 1987." (Pitino coached Providence from 1985-87)

On if he considered using a timeout at the end of the game instead of playing it out before Daniss Jenkins missed a jumper, and then after an offensive rebound, Jordan Dingle missed a three-pointer with six seconds left: "No, because I knew they were going to foul. I was thinking about it the entire time, but I knew they were going to foul. As long as we get a look at the basket, it's okay, but whenever we run, they are a team who will foul."

On the team's mindset entering the final stretch: "If you don't win the next six games, you win the Big East Tournament. That's what competitors do. You keep fighting until your time comes. You never know when your time will come. Hopefully it's this year."

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