Tonight’s battle between old Big East foes was a tale of two halves. The first half saw St. John’s shooting lights out while their defense caused Providence to look confused and, at times, out of rhythm. With the second half, however, came adjustments from Ed Cooley and an entirely new ball game too. Throw some throwback uniforms into that combination and you’ve got one hell of a basketball game.
Providence came out of the gates shooting the ball well, but that doesn’t matter when it’s alongside sloppy play. The Friars committed 10 turnovers (19 total) and went 6-12 from the charity strike in the first half. Poor foul shooting has been a trend for this group, and the first half was an ugly showing. PC would finish 18-27 from the line. Two early fouls on both Jalen Lindsey and Emmitt Holt also plagued Providence early on.
St. John’s, on the other hand looked sharp on defense, while shooting the ball efficiently off of Providence’s turnovers. Marcus LoVett took charge of the Red Storm’s scoring, as he has time and time again. This would become an even stronger theme as the game went on. St. John’s aggressive drive and kick offense would turn out to be an effective difference in their big road win.
After being down nine at the half, the Friars used a quick 6-0 run to start the second frame. Five St. John’s turnovers in a two minute span led to the Red Storm squandering their lead and leaving their momentum back in the first half. It would take just under five minutes for the Friars to retake the lead. From here on out, it would be a standard, back and forth, and wildly entertaining Big East matchup.
St. John’s was led by Marcus LoVett’s lights out shooting in the 91-86 victory. The freshman guard from Fort Wayne, Indiana was 10-15 from the field and finished with 26 points. LoVett took over this game for St. John’s down the stretch and willed himself to the hoop no matter what opposition Cooley placed in front of him. The Johnnies also received contributions from their other top scorer, Shamorie Ponds, with 22 points. These two have been Chris Mullin’s most consistent scorers to this point in the season, and Wednesday night was no different. They would ultimately be the difference down the stretch. Bashir Ahmed and Malik Ellison also posted 15 points each for the Red Storm.
The Friars put forth a balanced scoring attack with Rodney Bullock leading the way (20 points, 8 rebounds). One bright spot for Friar fans was freshman Alpha Diallo. Starting once again, the guard put up 18 points, and continued to gain confidence. Ed Cooley will look to him as another scoring option down the stretch.
For Providence, tonight was a pretty simple lesson. No defense, no win.
The Friars travel to Marquette this Saturday, while St. John’s looks to continue their winning ways as they welcome Xavier to town this Sunday.