An extremely slow start and poor interior defense were enough to sink the St. John’s men’s basketball team at Butler in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Tuesday night, as they fell on the road against the Bulldogs 85-62.
“We commend Butler for playing a good game from start to finish as they have done for most of the season,” head coach Steve Lavin told RedStormSports.com, “they had a sustained effort and executed for the entire game.”
Forward Sir’Dominic Pointer led the way for St. John’s with 19 points on 7-15 shooting in a losing effort. Pointer would also add six points and two blocks in 35 minutes.
The Red Storm would get off to an extremely slow start in this one, as they went scoreless for the first 5:27 of the game before Pointer finally got them on the board. The Johnnies trailed by as many as 11 points to Butler in the first half, as the Bulldogs shot an even 50% from the field in the half.
With 8:26 remaining in the first half, St. John’s would be dealt a major blow when their top shot-blocker, Chris Obekpa, received a flagrant 2 foul and was ejected from the game after he elbowed Butler’s Tyler Wideman.
As Obekpa departed the game after his extremely undisciplined move, that left the Red Storm with a major hole in the paint, which they were simply unable to fill for the rest of the night.
St. John’s would go into the half trailing by just eight points, 36-28, despite struggling on both ends of the floor. But the Bulldogs would be quick to extend their lead as the second half got underway, as a 14-2 Butler run to open up the half gave them a massive 50-30 lead and put the Red Storm in a hole that was too big to dig out of.
Despite this, the Johnnies were able to fight their way back into this one, eventually pulling to within eight points midway through the second half. But although they played much better offensively in the second half, the Red Storm could do nothing to stop Butler on the defensive end without Obekpa, as they allowed 49 points in the half.
Butler would end the game on a 15-0 run and eventually would go on to a dominating 85-62 victory at home. Kellen Dunham led the way for the Bulldogs with 21 points and seven rebounds, while Alex Barlow added 15 points on a perfect 5-5 shooting from the field.
For St. John’s Rysheed Jordan had 17 points, and D’Angelo Harrison scored 10, making him the third player in St. John’s history to hit the 2,000-point plateau in his career.
The loss drops the Red Storm to 14-7 overall and 3-5 in the conference. Their next game will be on Saturday at home against Creighton.