Obekpa-less Johnnies can’t figure out SDSU

Wilson Sy, Staff Writer

The shorthanded Red Storm battled and competed, but could not overcome the size and depth of San Diego State. Without big man Chris Obekpa, out due to suspension caused by a failed drug test, and having four starters play 39 minutes, the Johnnies did not have enough to come out with the victory. After making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years, No. 9 St. John’s fell to No. 8 San Diego State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 76-64 at the Time Warner Cable Center in Charlotte, N.C.

St. John’s was led by their four seniors along with sophomore Rysheed Jordan. Sir’Dominic Pointer capped off his excellent senior season with game-highs of 21 points and 10 rebounds. D’Angelo Harrison finished with 18 points, Jordan scored 10 points (all in the second half) Phil Greene IV netted nine points and Jamal Branch chipped in with six.

Harrison said, “We tried our best man. I played my hardest, I did what I could. We just came up short.”

On the other side, the Red Storm bench scored zero points in a total of 23 minutes, as opposed to the Aztecs bench scoring 24 points.

The Aztecs were led by JJ O’Brien who took advantage of every mismatch. The 6’7” forward scored 18 points connecting on 8-of-12 from the field. Senior forward Dwayne Polee II, a former Johnny in 2011, finished with 15 points, including five three-pointers, while sophomore forward Matt Shirigley chipped in 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting of the field.

During the first minutes of the game, Rysheed Jordan picked up two fouls, forcing the Johnnies to play their bench, which had little to no contribution on the night. Even though the Red Storm shot 15-of-30 from the field in the first half, the Aztecs was draining threes from all over the court. As soon as Jordan was subbed out, San Diego’s Dwayne Polee II connected on three straight triples. The Johnnies were led by the active Sir’Dominic Pointer in the early half, scoring 11 points in the first nine minutes, including three transition layups, before suffering a hip injury late first half.”

This loss marks the end of the collegiate careers for Harrison, Greene IV, Pointer, Branch and Ndiaye. The futures of Obekpa and Jordan remain uncertain until further notice.

“I’m proud of this group of seniors for taking us on this ride and restoring pride in St. John’s by getting us back to the NCAA Tournament,” said head coach Steve Lavin. “They’ve represented the University in a first-class manner. These kids are superheroes in my eyes. I look up to them and I told them as much after the game. I’ve had 27 years in the business and I probably admire this group more than any that I’ve coached.”