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

St. John’s Falls to Marquette, Drop to Seventh in Big East

After a stellar first half, the Red Storm couldn’t keep up.
Sophomore Zuby Ejiofor contributed five points, seven rebounds and shot 40% from the field vs. Marquette.
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

The St. John’s Red Storm faced a tough battle against the Marquette Golden Eagles, ultimately falling short in a matchup reminiscent of their Jan. 20 encounter, 75-86. The Johnnies, now seventh in the Big East, face a tough road for their remaining conference slate. 

After a lopsided victory over DePaul on Feb. 7, the Red Storm entered the game hungry for their first win against a ranked opponent in nearly a year. Anticipation was high as the first half unfolded, with a flurry of three-point shots and aggressive defense. Starters Daniss Jenkins, Joel Soriano, Chris Ledlum, Jordan Dingle and RJ Luis held their own against the seventh-ranked team in the nation, propelling a 20-16 lead early on, with graduate guards Dingle and Sean Conway soared in arguably their best performances of the season. 

The half witnessed the Red Storm commanding the court with a lead extending to as many as 15 points, fueling palpable tension between the competing teams. However, the atmosphere intensified when senior center Soriano fouled Marquette senior forward Oso Ighodaro. An altercation ensued between the two heightened by heated exchanges by Marquette’s junior guard Stevie Mitchell. Both Soriano and Mitchell were assessed technical fouls. Despite this, St. John’s ended the first half with a solid 47-38 lead. 

It looked like the Red Storm might actually win. 

Then came the second half. 

Something woke Tyler Kolek. The reigning Big East Player of the Year’s five points in the first half turned into 22 in the second. Despite St. John’s efforts, multiple missed layups and three-pointers cemented their struggles, unable to deter Kolek and the relentless Golden Eagles, who seemed to convert nearly every attempted shot. Kolek wrapped up his display with 13 assists. 

Continuing his self-proclaimed “slump,” Soriano saw limited action, logging only 17 minutes due in part to foul trouble. The center tallied two points and five rebounds, attempting zero shots in the first half. The reigning Big East most improved player lacked fire, something that’s been missing in 2024. 

However, sophomore Zuby Ejiofor was a bright spot for the struggling Red Storm. The Kansas transfer started the second half — an unprecedented move by Rick Pitino — and contributed five points, seven rebounds and shot 40% from the field.  

Head coach Rick Pitino was “disappointed” with the team’s performance. He told the press that the team’s defense “has hurt us most of the season and tonight was no different.”

“We’ll play hard and you’ll see some displays of brilliance at times, but it’s not going to happen because unless you have a mindset of guarding people on every single possession, it’s not going to happen and that’s not the mindset that they have,” he said. 

“We’re improving offensively, but defensively we still have the same problems,” Pitino continued. “It is what it is. It’s the first year. We are building a program and you gotta build a program on defense.”

The Johnnies set their sights on the road in a Feb. 13 game vs. Providence. 

The team previously proved victorious vs. the Friars, but given their recent struggles, a victory is far from assured.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Seaman, Managing Editor
Olivia is a junior journalism student serving her second year as Managing Editor. Outside of The Torch, she is a student ambassador and an Undergraduate Writing Consultant at the University Writing Center. You can find her with a matcha latte in hand, listening to SZA and watching St. John's basketball. Olivia can be reached at [email protected]

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