It was a tough one Tuesday night for St. John’s as they played host to the Rider Broncs in their final nonconference game for this season. On paper, it should not have been a close one. St. John’s were rolling into this one fresh off of a 89-66 win over Stony Brook and were came into the night as a 19 1⁄2 point favorite over the Broncs. Instead we got a game that went the distance, as Rider lived up to their team name coming close to an upset, as St. John’s struggled to find their rhythm for much of the game, but in the end falling short as St. John’s went on an 11-2 run in the final minutes of the game to seal a 82-79 win for the Red Storm.
The win moves the Johnnies to 5-1 on the season and closes out the nonconference portion of their schedule as all attention shifts to play within the Big East. It was not exactly an ideal way to close out nonconference play, as the game offered more questions than answers, but one interesting takeaway is that St. John’s has a lot of fight to see a game out to the end. Another interesting take though, is that this was the second time this season that the Red Storm played an opponent from the MAAC and found themselves having tough time for much of the game. The first opponent was Saint Peter’s in the season opener where it took a Vince Cole jumper in the dying seconds to give St. John’s the win.
Tuesday night was no different, though it you watched the first few minutes you would’ve thought that St. John’s was on their way to an easy win as the Johnnies got off to a flying start. A quick start settled in a rapid descent, as St. John’s sputtered for much of the remaining first half with the only real offensive output coming from within the paint with 20 of the 33 points by St. John’s coming in the paint. They also could not get the three ball going. Rider on the other hand surged ahead thanks in large part to some excellent shooting from beyond arc to give them a 35-33 at the half.
The second half proved to be more of the same though this time around St. John’s was able to dig deep to get their production going on the offensive side of the ball. Vince Cole, Julian Champagnie, and Marcellus Earlington all proving their worth over the second half with some excellent scoring to help the Johnnies get over the hump. Cole for his efforts ended up posting a game leading 26 points in scoring, while Champagnie had himself a double-double night of 18 points and 10 rebounds to continue his excellent play so far this season. Earlington rounds out the trio with a 16 point game. On the reverse side of things Posh Alexander Tuesday night showed that he despite the talent the errors of youth are still there with some poor play over the duration of the game, but despite that still managed to move the ball well with eight assists on the game.
Rider, on the other hand, was lead by a Rodney Henderson Jr. tonight who posted a 20 point game for the Broncs. His efforts were met with the play of a trio of players who also had stellar games, Dwight Murray Jr posted a 19 game, Allen Powell had himself a 17 point game, and rounding things out Tyrel Bladen posted a 10 point game and lead the Broncs win rebounds with eight on the night. Any other night this production would have helped Rider see the game out for a win.
As a team, St. John’s shot the ball at a rate of 47% from the floor on 33-of-70 shooting, much of which came in the second half surge. Shooting from beyond the arc came in 28% on 5-of-18 shooting, and from the foul line was 61% on 11-of-18 shooting. St. John’s managed to out rebound Rider with 41 boards to the 31 that Broncs gathered and 46 of St. John’s 82 points came from within the paint as shooting beyond the arc kept misfiring.
Rider on the other hand shot the ball at a rate of 49% from the floor on 28-of-57 shooting, 46% from beyond the arc on 11-of-24 shooting, and 71% from the foul line on 12-of-17 shooting.
With this one in the books, St. John’s now turn their attention to their game against Seton Hall on December 11th. Given how the nonconference portion has gone it will be interesting to see how St. John’s adjust to better opposition.