The Providence Friars defended their home court last night defeating the St. John’s Red Storm 63-58. The Friars won a tight one behind Alpha Diallo’s 19 points and a collective effort on the glass that led to them outrebounding the Johnnies 46-34. As expected it was an ugly game with both teams shooting under 40% from the field and the outcome was only decided once Luwane Pipkins sank 2 free throws after a potential game tying 3-pointer by the Johnnies was off the mark. Despite the rough shooting percentage, the Friars get extra credit for coming away with the victory while short-handed as AJ Reeves and Emmitt Holt (who both average near 20 minutes per game) were last minute scratches due to lingering injuries.
The leading scorer for the Red Storm was LJ Figueroa with 12 points although it was far from an impressive performance from the St. John’s junior who shot 4-17 from the field including an unsightly 2-12 from deep. The Johnnies other big gun, Mustapha Heron, was hindered by early foul trouble but was equally ineffective when on the court scoring only seven points on 2-9 shooting. Unfortunately for St. John’s fans, lackluster performances from their two All Big East pre-season selections have become a regular occurrence. Figueroa and Heron have been inconsistent at best and straight up bad at their worst. The effort and production Mike Anderson has squeezed out of the St. John’s supporting cast has been admirable but any post-season dreams are circling the drain as the rest of the team waits for their two most talented players to meet expectations.
As for Providence, their turnaround continues as they move to an impressive 4-1 in conference games. It’s a little early to move the Friars onto the bubble just yet as this next stretch of games is easily the toughest of their schedule. Look at this daunting lineup:
@ Seton Hall
That’s as tough as it gets in the Big East this season. If the Friars can get out of that stretch with 2 or 3 wins then we should really see the buzz around a potential at-large birth begin to build. The Johnnies meanwhile drop to 1-4 in Big East play and things don’t get any easier as Seton Hall (the hottest team in the conference) comes to town Saturday.