Nova’s second half run dooms Johnnies

St. John’s loses 12th straight

Sydney Johnson, Staff Writer

The Red Storm fell to Big East front runner, Villanova, on Sunday. The teams were welcomed to Madison Square Garden by nearly 13,000 fans. The crowd was excited and the stakes were high. The Wildcats had the chance to prevent St. John’s from earning their first conference win and the Johnnies had a chance to take down AP’s third place team. After a close first half, Villanova was able to hold off the Storm and win 68-53.

St. John’s opened the game’s scoring with back-to-back three-pointers but Villanova answered with a 7-0 run. The score remained close and neither team held a lead larger than six points. The Wildcats struggled with their scoring. They have averaged 46.4 percent from the field this season; however, in the first half they shot 23 percent. The Johnnies shot 32 percent from the field which was not too far off from their season average of 34 percent.

The second half was a different story. Villanova started to pull away immediately and St. John’s could not carry over the consistency to the period. In terms of shooting, consistency was not an issue. The team shot a percent better in the second half than in the first. Rebounds and free throws were the main factors in the second half downfall of St. John’s.

Villanova’s main rebounder, Daniel Ochefu, suffered a concussion in practice on Friday and missed Sunday’s game. Without the 6-11 forward’s presence down low, Villanova had some compensating to do. The Wildcats were able to out-rebound St. John’s 48 to 35. The Red Storm had a hard time rebounding the ball, especially on the defensive end. They allowed the Wildcats to earn 13 offensive rebounds. The second chance opportunities proved to have an effect on the game’s outcome.

Both sides were also very aggressive. A total of 38 fouls were committed and the Wildcats found the line much more often. Villanova shot more than twice the amount of free throws St. John’s shot. Villanova shot 25 free throws and converted 19 of them, while St. John’s went seven for 12.

A Johnnie that had a huge impact on the game was guard Ron Mvouika. He earned a double-double, scoring 11 points and posting ten rebounds. He had a defensive presence as well recording two steals and two blocks. A highlight of the night was when the crowd erupted after he scored a three-point buzzer beater to close the first half from about 25 feet out. The graduate student-athlete has an energy that’s contagious and is a leader on this team. “I’m making sure that my guys are ready to go,” Mvouika said. “It’s just about staying together, having positive energy and keep believing.”

After the game, Head Coach Chris Mullin said the plan was to review the game footage, make some adjustments at practice and get ready for the next game.

As the team moves closer to the postseason, it will also look to capture its first conference victory. “We just have to find a way to finish games,” Mvouika said. “We’re not playing for 30 minutes, 25 minutes, 35 minutes. We gotta play for 40.”