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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 Advances to Big East Semifinals; Will the Johnnies Go Dancing?

The Johnnies will play on a Friday at the Big East Tournament for the first time in 24 years.
Joel Soriano put up 14 points and 12 rebounds against Seton Hall.
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

Pressure (noun): ‘Your ally, your best friend in life.’ That is, according to head coach Rick Pitino. 

Over the last six games, pressure has been Pitino and co.’s ally. Since collapsing vs. Seton Hall back in late February, the Red Storm haven’t lost. 

They carried this newfound momentum into the quarterfinal round of the Big East Tournament, battering the aforementioned fourth-seeded Pirates 91-72. 

From the opening tip, it was apparent to the 19,812 attendees that St. John’s was locked in. If they wanted any chance of hearing their name called this coming Selection Sunday, they had to put on a show. 

Don’t all those doubters look silly now?

The most glaring first half highlight for Johnny faithful was Joel Soriano’s (14 pts., 12 rebs.)  return to early-season form. The “Big Fella” dominated the paint, stacking up eight points and four rebounds in the opening stretch. Sophomore RJ Luis Jr. (18 pts., 9 rebs.) carried over his momentum from last Saturday’s victory over Georgetown, displaying his unparalleled driving ability en route to 10 points and seven rebounds through 20 minutes of action. 

Despite a masterclass of a first half from St. John’s, their crosstown rival’s shooting ability kept the game within reach. Al-Amir Dawes (22 pts., 3 rebs.) connected on nearly everything he threw up, continuing to extend the pressure on the Red Storm. 

Only up three with the game clock winding down, Luis Jr. tossed up a floater that sunk into the bottom of the net as the halftime buzzer sounded. 

Second half action showed much of the same for St. John’s, something the Pirates couldn’t say for themselves. As Shaheen Holloway’s crew went ice-cold, the Red Storm began piling it on. Jordan Dingle (14 pts., 2 rebs.) and Nahiem Alleyne (14 pts., 3-3 3PM) stayed consistent from deep. Chris Ledlum’s (11 pts., 7 rebs.)  signature Barkley-esque drive proved no match for Seton Hall’s defense. Daniss Jenkins (11 pts., 4 assts.), despite finding himself in foul trouble, remained a consistent offensive weapon. 

Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

Most importantly, the Johnnies were visibly enjoying every second of the pummeling, knowing they were advancing to their first semifinal game in 24 years. 

With Selection Sunday just three days away, the hall-of-famer remains focused on the task at hand. 

“We’re trying to win the Big East title. We’ve had a great year. We’re a hot team,” Pitino proclaimed. “I told the guys: ‘March is what it’s all about.’”

For exclusive access to the postgame press conference, click here

Having avenged Seton Hall’s regular season series sweep, St. John’s now looks to do it again in dramatic fashion. 

The Red Storm take on No. 1 UConn at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow at Madison Square Garden. 

Pitino vs. Hurley act III.

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About the Contributor
Kyler Fox, Managing Editor
  Kyler is a senior journalism student in his second year with The Torch serving as Managing Editor. Outside of The Torch, he is a contributor for A Daly Dose of Hoops and Last Word on Sport. When Kyler isn’t writing, you can find him catching up on the latest buzz surrounding the industry, playing basketball with his friends or checking out the latest sneaker drops. Kyler can be reached at [email protected].
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