The St. John’s men’s basketball team got its first signature win to date on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden as it upset No. 12/12
Creighton 70-65 to notch its sixth win in its last seven games and third straight Big East contest.
The Red Storm (15-9, 5-6) were able to hold one of the best offensive teams in the nation in the Blue Jays (19-4, 9-2) to statistics that are well below their season average with relentless defensive pressure.
“This win was significant because this particular group has worked so hard from the Georgetown game forward,” Lavin said. “I’m as proud of this group as any I’ve coached in terms of resiliency, gumption, fight back and character. The hardship we faced earlier in the season seems to have forged a certain strength. We’re not satisfied, we haven’t achieved anything of significance, but tonight’s win is another hurdle that has been cleared and an indication that this team is improving.”
The second half was a back and forth affair between St. John’s and Creighton as the score was tied seven times and the lead changed hands ten times. Sophomores JaKarr Sampson and Chris Obekpa teamed up to hold Creighton’s senior standout Doug McDermott scoreless in the last 8:40 of regulation to help the Red Storm get the upset victory.
“He’s a really good player,”Sampson said. “This whole game all I wanted to focus on was defense and the defensive end of the floor. The last game we took all of their other players out of the game, but I knew today would be a defensive game and that we needed to take him out.”
St. John’s was led on the night by junior guard D’Angelo Harrison who tallied up 19 points and was able to put away the Blue Jays by making 4-of-5 free throws in the games final 20 seconds.
“[Harrison] is our go to guy,” sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson said. “He makes big shot after big shot. He’s a really good free throw shooter so we went to him and he pulled it out for us.”
In the first half St. John’s looked like the better team, as they were able to outduel Doug McDermott and Creighton. The Red Storm were
16-of-32 from the field with D’Angelo Harrison, Chris Obekpa, Phil Greene IV, and Sir’ Dominic Pointer all contributing seven points to the Johnnies 40-36 lead at the half.
St. John’s was also able to hold the Blue Jays below their season averages 81.2 ppg, a 49.2 percent field goal percentage, a 75.9 percent mark from the free throw line, and 42.5 percent from beyond the arc. But on Sunday night only put up 65 points, shot 41.1 percent from the field, made only 56 percent of their free throws and were only 22.7 percent from three.
The victory marked the 200th collegiate win for St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin.