St. John’s Falls To Creighton Playing Without Two Suspended Guards

The Red Storm had multiple opportunities to upset No. 18 Creighton, but couldn’t capitalize in the 77-67 loss.

Torch Photo / Brenden Willsch

QUEENS, NY —  The St. John’s Men’s Basketball team couldn’t overcome its first half deficit against No. 18 Creighton, falling 77-67. Playing before a sellout crowd at Carnesecca Arena, the team was without guards Andre Curbelo (coach’s decision) and Rafael Pinzon (team suspension).

The Red Storm started out playing effectively, remaining within a few possessions for most of the first half. But Creighton used seven-footer Ryan Kalkbrenner to open up the team’s perimeter shooting with ball screens, and the Bluejays knocked down eight 3-pointers in the opening period.

That shifted in the second half, as the Johnnies came out of the locker room with a 17-5 scoring run to tie the game at 49 with 11:28 remaining. Creighton experienced multiple scoring droughts during that time, and the Blue Jays’ head coach Greg McDermott attributed the team’s ineffectiveness to the disruptiveness of the St. John’s defense.

“That’s a credit to St. John’s and their defense,” McDermott said in a postgame media conference. “With the way they pressure, they’re always just an eyelash away from turning the game around and getting back into it. And they did exactly that.”

St. John’s didn’t capitalize on the rare scoring drought from Creighton, converting on one field goal during a five-minute stretch in the second half. The Bluejays found their stroke following that span, closing out the game’s final 12 minutes on a 29-18 run.

“We had windows of opportunities to really put ourselves in position to win the game,” said St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson. “And we just did not take advantage of it.”

Both coaches noted the importance of second-chance points in the contest, and Creighton’s seven offensive rebounds and 13 second-chance points established a 10-point lead at the half. Though St. John’s out-rebounded Creighton in the second half, 22-15, it couldn’t finish off the comeback. All told, St. John’s led for just 48 seconds in the loss.

“We just came up short,” Anderson said.

When asked about the team’s late-game struggles this season, Anderson referenced the team’s recent double-overtime victory against DePaul. “We just had a game where we executed, so I don’t know where that question is coming from,” Anderson said. “I just think we didn’t make the right plays, that’s all, and they did.”

Anderson declined to comment on the team’s two suspended players. St. John’s is 16-12 overall and 6-11 in the Big East Conference following the loss, which clinched a losing season in league play. The team returns to action Wednesday against Georgetown in Washington D.C. for a 9 p.m. tip.