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St. John’s vs. Gonzaga game recap: Red Storm hang tough, but fall to the Zags

St. John’s looked dead in the water, but they fought back. In the end, it was not enough to beat Gonzaga in the NIT Preseason Tip-Off title game. Zags take the title by a final of 73-66.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

After trailing by just five at halftime, St. John’s looked to be very much in the game, but the Bulldogs of Gonzaga went on an 11-0 run to take lead 51-37 in the second half. The Red Storm would then go on a 29-18 run to cut the deficit to just three points with just over a minute remaining. Gonzaga then finished the game on a 4-0 run to fend off the Johnnies.

Phil Greene IV led the way for St. John’s with 20 points and four rebounds while helping to bring his team back with some clutch three point shooting. He made four out of his nine three pointers, which was key in the comeback attempt.

Rysheed Jordan had 18 points three rebounds and four steals, but made a few costly turnovers down the stretch that cost his team.

St. John’s dealt with foul trouble in the first half as Chris Obekpa picked up three fouls early in the game and would later foul out with about six minutes remaining. He finished with just one point, four rebounds and three blocks.

For the Red Storm, the defense was not up to par once again as they allowed five Zags to reach double figures led by Domantas Sabonis who finished with a double-double, 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer, who was coming off a great performance against Georgia, only had eight points and five rebounds in this game. If he had played more consistently, the Bulldogs may have been able to put this game out of reach much earlier in the second half.

The major difference over the 40 minutes was the shooting of both teams. Mark Few’s squad always seemed to get much better shots from the floor and finished with a 52.9 shooting percentage for the game.

St. John’s settled for many tough three point opportunities and shot just 36.7 percent from the field for the game. Both teams missed opportunities from the charity strike as the Redstorm and Bulldogs finished around 60 percent.

After halftime, there were a few adjustments that the Redstorm needed to make including keeping certain players, like Obekpa, out of foul trouble and taking better shots. It did not seem like the players listened to Steve Lavin, but still were able to make a run to make the game interesting.

This game was a microcosm of the St. John’s program right now. They are great at times and then head scratching at other moments.

Zags star Kevin Pangos was named the tournament MVP and Rysheed Jordan made the All-Tournament team for St. John's.