St. John’s bounces back after G’Town pounding
Men’s basketball began its short road trip by beating USF 72-58 on Feb. 2, despite a 16-point first half deficit, and playing the second half without leading scorer Anthony Mason, Jr.
“It was a huge confidence booster,” said captain Eugene Lawrence.
The Bulls surged to a 25-9 lead before Larry Wright sunk one of his three three-pointers to spark a 17-1 Red Storm run to close out the half.
Meanwhile, Mason, Jr. aggravated the same ankle that kept him sidelined at the beginning of the season. Coach Norm Roberts listed him as day-to-day with an ankle contusion.
With Mason, Jr. out, freshman Justin Burrell stepped up and scored a career-high 22 points, shooting 9-15 from the floor.
“He scored inside and out, and was vocal defensively. He learns quick, and needs to keep it up,” said Roberts on Burrell’s career night.
D.J. Kennedy scored all of his 13 points in the final eight minutes of the game, leading an 11-1 run that proved to seal the deal for the Johnnies.
Wright contributed with a near-perfect shooting performance, finishing 7-8 from the field with 17 points.
Malik Boothe has received a noticeable increase in playing time, which proved to be productive as he recorded his first double-double with 11 points and
Mason, Jr.’s absence calls more than ever for the young guys to step up. The consensus is there is no time for a learning curve.
“All of them stepped up. There’s no chance to be actual freshman. All of them had to play like upperclassman,” Lawrence added.
After a deflating loss to Georgetown, the team’s resiliency shined bright during their first win since beating Cincinnati on Jan. 5.
“We went out ready to play,” Roberts said.
“I’m very proud because they stuck with it. We have to be resilient when we’re young.”
Georgetown 74, St. John’s 42
“In these games, players have to make plays when you have the opportunity to make them,” said head coach Norm Roberts after St. John’s 74-42 loss to No. 6 Georgetown on Jan. 30. The loss was the program’s worst-ever in Big East play.
The opportunities were there, but shooting 21.3 percent from the floor isn’t exactly what coach calls “making plays.” This Big East match-up had St. John’s offense, ranked next-to-last in shooting percentage at 42.2, competing against Georgetown’s stifling field-goal percentage defense, ranked number one in the nation.
It took the Red Storm 15:27 to net its first field goal. Before then, 11 missed shots and 12 turnovers by St. John’s helped Georgetown take a 31-5 lead, until Justin Burrell banked in a shot. He finished with 9 points while turning the ball over 7 times.
Anthony Mason, Jr. added 9 points of his own, along with 7 rebounds in his game-high 35 minutes. Mason was coming off consecutive 29-point games in the losses to Pitt and Louisville.
Freshman point guard Malik Boothe played a season-high 30 minutes, finishing with six points and one assist.
“It was probably the worst feeling I have ever felt in my life. Nobody wants to lose at all, but to lose by that much is worse,” Boothe said. “We just have to go into the next game knowing we are going to win.”