Pop Goes the Bubble
St. John’s entered yesterday’s game fighting for its NCAA tournament life. It exited simply fighting, with any hopes of dancing long gone.
The Red Storm, who held a four-point lead going into halftime before being outscored 44-14 in the second half, fell to No. 24 Notre Dame 66-40 at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind.
“You don’t have to look beyond the second half shooting percentages to realize what the difference in the game was,” head coach Steve Lavin said. “[Notre Dame] pounded us in the paint during the second half with high percentage shots.”
St. John’s relinquished its lead and never recovered it as the team went 2 for 13 to start the second half. After completing an 11-2 run, the Fighting Irish never looked back as they built up to a 28-point lead.
That’s when sophomore Sir’Dominic Pointer got shoved by Cameron Biedsheid and responded by charging the player and throwing punches. A scrum ensued, which included sophomore Amir Garrett leaving the bench. All three players were ejected. According to NCAA rules, Pointer will be suspended for the Johnnies’ season finale against Marquette due to the fight. The Big East conference is responsible for reviewing instances when players leave the bench as Garrett did.
“Dom apologized for losing his composure and will serve his penalty by missing the final game against Marquette,” Lavin said. “We have to demonstrate more maturity than we did tonight. We want to play with intensity but also use intelligence in order to play a winning brand of basketball.”
Before the fight, Pointer was one of a few bright spots for the Johnnies, putting up seven points, 12 rebounds, four assists and four blocks. JaKarr Sampson scored 12 points, while sophomore Phil Greene had 10 points. The team finished with 10 blocked shots.
Jerian Grant led the Fighting Irish with a game-high 21 points, while Eric Atkins finished with 15 points. Jack Cooley contributed 12 points and 13 rebounds.
It was the second contest since sophomore and leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.
The loss was the sixth in the last eight games for the Johnnies. Barring a deep run in the Big East Tournament next week, they will have to settle for an NIT berth, missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in 11 years.