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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Jenkins, Dingle Not Enough to Overcome UConn as St. John’s likely locks up NCAA Tournament Berth

The Red Storm couldn’t pull off the victory in the highest scoring Big East Tournament game since 2016.
Daniss Jenkins
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

After blasting Seton Hall in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament, head coach Rick Pitino and company earned a third rematch with the Huskies in the semifinals. Thanks to the aforementioned blowout win, St. John’s didn’t need to take down the Connecticut powerhouse for the right to dance. They were playing with house money.

And they nearly robbed the casino. 

In a contest that provided a slew of whistles (looking at you, James Breeding), sideline antics and gutsy performances, the Red Storm fell to Dan Hurley’s crew for the third time this season, 95-90

Through the first two minutes of the contest, the Huskies were held scoreless. On the contrary, Daniss Jenkins (27 pts., 5 asst.) exploded for 11 points in just 1:49 of action. For the majority of the opening stretch, Jenkins was playing one-on-five. As he was scoring seemingly every time down the court, with seven minutes remaining in the half any Red Storm player not named Jenkins was a combined 3-of-13 from the field. 

Then, the ‘short guy in a red blazer’ got involved. 

After angrily disagreeing with one of Breeding’s several egregious first half calls, Pitino was assigned a technical. A courtside fan, sporting a red blazer, also animatedly disagreed, allegedly spewing expletives, something Hurley couldn’t handle. He began pleading his case to Breeding for why the fan should be ejected, only to receive a technical himself. 

Following five minutes of non-basketball chaos, the players were allowed to resume. 

It was at this point that Jenkins finally began to receive some help from his teammates, but the usual suspects were not the primary supporters. Zuby Ejiofor (8 pts., 3-4 FG) packed on all eight of his points in the first half. Brady Dunlap (5 pts., 2 rebs.) provided an instant impact, forcing two turnovers shortly after entering the game. 

After Breeding waved off a buzzer-beating layup from Jenkins, the Johnnies only trailed by five at the break. 

The second half offered much less drama than the first, and displayed why UConn may roll through the NCAA Tournament. Despite a late surge from Jordan Dingle (19 pts., 3-5 3PM), they just couldn’t miss. Whether it was Big East Player of the Year runner-up Tristen Newton, Cam Spencer or Alex Karaban, any time the Red Storm snuck back into the game, the Huskies always had an answer. 

Faced with any other conference foe, the Red Storm win this game. It’s very rare to put up 90 points and lose, unless you are playing the defending champs, a sentiment Pitino echoed.

“You score 90 points against the defending national champions, I think you’re doing a lot of things right,” the hall-of-famer said. “We’re making our free throws, we’re passing the ball well, but Connecticut’s Connecticut, and they’re just a machine.” 

For exclusive access to the postgame press conference, click here

As the Red Storm now range between a nine seed and 11 seed in the majority of major NCAA Tournament brackets, the Johnnies await Selection Sunday to learn their fate. 

One popular pairing many bracket-makers have? St. John’s vs. New Mexico (25-9). Rick Pitino vs. Richard Pitino.

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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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