The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Red Storm Fall to No. 17 Marquette, Enter Three-Game Skid

The Golden Eagles spoiled “Throwback Day” at Madison Square Garden.
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

If the ball had bounced differently in matchups with No. 1 UConn, No. 18 Creighton and now No. 17 Marquette, St. John’s would boast a 7-1 record in the Big East, securing the top spot in the conference.

Instead, all three encounters resulted in losses, most recently with head coach Rick Pitino and company falling to the Golden Eagles 73-72 in heartbreaking fashion. The contest followed the same pattern as the losses to UConn and Creighton, with the Red Storm jumping out to another promising first half lead. 

Guided by sophomore guard RJ Luis Jr. (20 pts., 4 rebs.) and sophomore center Zuby Ejiofor (8 pts., 4 rebs.), sporting throwback “Felipe Lopez-era” inspired uniforms, St. John’s surged to a 10-point advantage late in the first half. Largely due to Marquette’s ugly 0-for-11 shooting from beyond the arc, the Red Storm would head into the break leading 34-28. 

However, the Golden Eagles dominated the majority of the second half, displaying a stark contrast to their performance in the opening 15 minutes. St. John’s struggled defensively, allowing Marquette to shoot 16-for-20 in a 13-minute span, when suddenly the Red Storm found themselves facing a 10-point deficit. 

Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

Just as it seemed another second half collapse was imminent, St. John’s ripped off a 13-to-2 run, igniting the Madison Square Garden crowd. In a blink of an eye, the Johnnies trailed by two with just under a minute and a half to play. All scoring would halt until senior guard Daniss Jenkins (16 pts., 4 rebs.) headed to the free-throw line, converting one-of-two to narrow the gap. St. John’s fouled with under ten seconds remaining in regulation, with Marquette already in the single bonus. 

Senior guard Tyler Kolek missed the free throw, as senior center Joel Soriano (11 pts., 9 rebs.) grabbed the rebound before calling timeout with 4.3 seconds left on the clock. Despite a well drawn-up play by Pitino, Jenkins’ game winning shot fell just short, marking yet another missed opportunity for the Red Storm. 

After the game, Jenkins reflected on his final shot. 

“No, I definitely did [think it was going in],” he proclaimed. “I was hurt because I didn’t hold my follow-through. That’s why I missed the shot.”

Despite the loss, Pitino praised his ever-maturing squad’s resilience. 

“I really liked the guts [and] the determination to win that game,” he assured the press. “We are going to build something that you’re going to look at in two years and say, ‘That’s greatness.’”Amidst a three game losing-streak, the Red Storm aim to break the slump next Wednesday, Jan. 24, when they take on Villanova (11-6)  at Madison Square Garden. St. John’s previously defeated the Wildcats in their last meeting at The Pavillion, a 81-71 victory, their first since 1993.

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About the Contributor
Kyler Fox, Asst. Sports Editor
Kyler is a junior journalism student serving as an Assistant Sports Editor. Outside of The Torch, Kyler is a contributor for both A Daly Dose of Hoops and Last Word on Sports. When he isn’t writing, you can either find him keeping up with his favorite sports teams or checking out the latest sneaker drops.

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