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

Second Half Collapse Dooms St. John’s as Red Storm Fall to No. 1 UConn

The now-scrambling Johnnies wasted away yet another opportunity.
Graduate guard Daniss Jenkins had 19 points and six assists against the Huskies.
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

On a quest to redeem their narrow Dec. 24 loss at then-No. 7 UConn, St. John’s were once again unable to take down the basketball Goliath that is the Huskies. Much like the first meeting, Dan Hurley’s crew was left short-handed, as sophomore forward Alex Caraban was ruled out prior to tip-off with an ankle injury. The 77-64 loss at Madison Square Garden was the latest blemish on the Red Storm’s tournament hopes, making them losers in five of their last six contests. 

Following what has become a trend for St. John’s, head coach Rick Pitino and company started out strong. Orchestrated by graduate guard Daniss Jenkins (19 pts., 6 assts.), the Red Storm overcame a lights-out first half shooting performance from the Huskies. 

Primed for the spotlight, Jenkins connected on his first four shots, with three coming from beyond the arc. He led St. John’s to a one-point advantage at the halftime break, after UConn closed the gap following a 22-8 Red Storm run. 

The stage was set. This was the opportunity. 

Reminiscent of previous matchups with UConn, then-No. 17 Marquette and then-No. 22 Creighton, St. John’s began the second half flat. The Huskies ripped off an 8-0 run with just over 12 minutes to play, capitalizing on the suddenly cold Red Storm. Unable to stop the bleeding, St John’s found themselves down by as much as 15 late in the contest. While their performance was nothing to write home about, it’s nearly impossible to beat the best team in the country while allowing almost 50% from three and 91% from the free-throw line. 

On Saturday afternoon, the Huskies were just the better team, according to Pitino. 

“They’re better than us. They’ve been better than us twice,” the hall-of-famer announced to the press. “We’re not a great basketball team. It’s going to take time. We need five or six [players like] Daniss Jenkins.”

Outside of Jenkins, no member of the Red Storm played spectacularly. After a great performance in the first matchup with UConn, senior center Joel Soriano (6 pts., 4 rebs.) appeared to fall back into his self-proclaimed “slump.” The superstar big man was seemingly neutralized by Hurley’s gameplan. 

“If we can get on a bit of a run, they’ll get their confidence back. [Jenkins] is playing like one of the top two or three point guards in the league,” Pitino said. “We have to get the other guys to play at a high level, and we’re not getting them [to play] at a high level right now.”

After concluding the most brutal stretch of their schedule, St. John’s looks to get off the schneid next Tuesday, Feb. 6 at UBS Arena at 6:30 p.m. Facing off with DePaul (3-18) in their first meeting of the season, another uninspiring Red Storm performance could mean Johnnies faithful’s NCAA tournament dreams are all but dead.

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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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