It is amazing how much can change in a week.
Last Saturday, the Red Storm challenged Seton Hall, a likely NCAA Tournament team, until the final buzzer at Madison Square Garden. This week, the Red Storm not only lost at DePaul but also followed the disastrous defeat up with a far more worrisome loss against Creighton.
The Johnnies put together a clunker in Omaha as Chris Mullin’s unit was run out of the gym, 100 to 59, by the Blue Jays due to a rough defensive outing and early foul trouble from Yankuba Sima.
Christian Jones tied his career high with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting but the road team received very little production from Kassoum Yakwe (zero points and two rebounds), Federico Mussini (five points on 1-of-6 shooting) and Malik Ellison (five points on 1-of-6 shooting).
Sima added most of his 13 points in garbage time while Felix Balamou, Ron Mvouika and Durand Johnson combined to score just 16 points.
The Johnnies let the Blue Jays shoot 60 percent from the field overall and 42 percent from downtown (they hit eight trey’s in the first half). They also gave up 12 offensive boards, couldn’t convert on 19 Blue Jay turnovers and were out-rebounded by a total of 26.
What was particularly discouraging was St. John’s effort on the defensive end of the floor. The Johnnies were giving point guard Maurice Watson Jr. and company free lanes to the basket, they couldn’t match the strength of Geoffrey Groselle on the interior and the transition defense was non-existent.
The poor performance boiled into pure frustration. As Mullin picked up his second technical mid-way through the second half, he was ejected from the game and had to be held back by Mitch Richmond, Greg St. Jean, Barry ‘Slice’ Rohrssen and Mvouika. The game was already in hand but ‘Slice’ took over the coaching duties the rest of the way.
In the opening half, the Johnnies started very slow and came out of the gates with no energy. Sima picked up his second personal foul two minutes in and the Red Storm already trailed 10-6 at the under 16 media timeout as Creighton was knocking down wide open looks from the perimeter.
Creighton went on an incredible 29 to 4 run from the 10:47 mark to the final minute in the first half and built a 53-24 lead at the break that they would never relinquish.
The offense wasn’t much better for the Red Storm as they shot just 32 percent from the field overall, 18 percent from downtown and went to the free throw line only 19 times compared to 30 times for Creighton.
Greg McDermott’s unit was led by Groselle (22 points and 11 rebounds), Watson (10 points and seven assists and James Milliken (19 points on 7-of-10 shooting).
Next up for the Red Storm (8-22, 1-16) will be a match-up versus the reeling Providence Friars at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon. The Friars beat the Red Storm 83-65 in their first meeting at The Dunk but the game was much more competitive than the final score indicates.