Late Wildcat Run Hands Men’s Basketball First Loss
In its toughest test so far this season, the St. John’s men’s basketball team fell to No. 15 Arizona, 81-72, at Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Classic.
Sophomore guard Nurideen Lindsey led with 18 points for St. John’s, but also recorded seven turnovers. Freshman guard D’Angelo Harrison finished with 16 points. Arizona was led by forward Solomon Hill, who had 15 points, and Jesse Perry, who finished with a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Trailing 54-47 around the 15 minute mark, a 19-4 run gave the Red Storm an eight point lead with 7:17 left to play. But the Wildcats roared back after that, going on a 19-4 run of their own to take control of the game and hand the Johnnies (3-1) their first loss of the season.
“Coach [Sean Miller] had been saying it all day yesterday in practice that St. John’s, which thrives off of turning the other team over, is going to go on a run,” said Arizona senior guard Kyle Fogg. “So we knew they were going to go on that run, and they went on it in a key part of the game. I had confidence in our team and I think we handled it with great poise.
During Arizona’s run, Lindsey fouled out on a charge with 4:01 left to play and his team down by one. Fogg hit a three-pointer on the next possession, and the Johnnies never got closer than four points down the rest of the way.
“[Lindsey fouling out] was huge,” said Fogg. “He’s arguably their best player, one of their best perimeter players. He’s the engine of their team. I think there was a big drop in their aggressiveness and everything when he fouled out. I think our team really attacked when that happened.”
Though disappointed with the loss, head coach Steve Lavin found positives to take out of the team’s first game against a Top-25 opponent.
“I thought the run, coming from six down to go up eight, demonstrated some resiliency and demonstrated the ability to take a punch and then counterpunch,” Lavin said. “The disappointment was with the turnovers and some shot selection that we need to clean up in certain critical stretches.”
Junior forward God’sgift Achiuwa did not start the game because he was late to the team bus, Lavin said. The head man added that not starting would be his only punishment.
St. John’s now plays in the consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic on Nov. 17 against Texas A&M, who lost the early game to Mississippi St, only 17 hours after the final horn blew against Arizona.
“You learn a lot about your team [with the quick turnaround],” said Lavin. “You find out a little bit about our resiliency. We’ve seen resiliency within the game. Hopefully tomorrow is another opportunity to show that we can boss back from a tough loss, our first loss of the season.”