For the first time in program history, the St. John’s men’sbasketball team has started a season with six consecutive losses inBig East play. The six-game slump is also the longest since the1996-97 season and with just 11 games left on the schedule, St.John’s may miss the Big East tournament for the first time inschool history.
The last of those losses occurred Saturday, as the Red Stormfell, 78-70 at Rutgers. The loss landed the Storm two games back of12th place in the 14-team conference, where only the top 12 teamsqualify for the annual tourney.
After recording its first two-game winning streak of the season(St. John’s interim coach Kevin Clark’s first and only wins so faras a Division head coach) with wins against Holy Cross and Niagara,St. John’s opened its conference slate with a trip to defendingNational Champion Syracuse.
Playing perhaps its best game of the season, the Storm battledthe Orangemen for 40 minutes, but following this season’s trend,came up just short, 65-59.
From showing no signs of quit at Syracuse, St. John’s gave upthree days later in the second half of a 71-54 loss at the hands ofSeton Hall.
On Jan. 14, SJU committed 19 turnovers, allowed Miami’s RobertHite to slam dunk at will, readjusting the rim along the way as theJohnnies handed the Hurricanes a winnable game at Alumni Hall. Theloss ensured the first losing season at Alumni Hall in its 43 yearhistory.
Starting its Big East schedule with three straight losses, St.John’s entered a crucial three-game road trip that included stopsat Villanova (Jan. 18), Georgetown (Jan. 20) and Rutgers (Jan.24).
The Storm dropped all three contests but played tough, losing byjust a combined 21 points.
Rutgers 78, St. John’s 70:Quincy Douby, a product of Grady High in Brooklyn wasn’t highlyrecruited by former head coach Mike Jarvis and St. John’s. OnSaturday, Douby got the last laugh, coming off the bench to score19 points, including 16 in the second half and five-of-five fromthree-point range as the Scarlet Knights held off the Red Storm,beating SJU for the first time in their last nine meetings.
Kyle Cuffe led the way for St. John’s, scoring 19 points, whileDaryll Hill scored 15 and Grady Reynolds added 14.
After trailing by two at the half, SJU battled back to withinfour with ten minutes remaining in the second stanza, but Rutgersresponded with a 19-9 run to take a six-point lead and never lookedback.
Georgetown 71, St. John’s 69:The Hoyas redeemed themselves from last year’s NIT Championshiploss, beating the Red Storm in thrilling fashion as CourtlandFreeman’s dunk with 0.5 remaining gave Georgetown its first winover St. John’s for the first time in the two team’s last eightmeetings.
A game consisting of 16 ties, with neither team leading by morethan six points came down to the last play of the game. AshantiCook dribbled the clock down and hit Freeman, who slammed home thewinning two points over SJU’s Grady Reynolds, who had tied the gamewith a dunk of his own with 26 seconds remaining.
Freeman finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and a career-highseven assists for Georgetown, while Darrel Owens scored 15 andBrandon Bowman chipped in 14. Elijah Ingram, Kyle Cuffe andReynolds paced the Red Storm, all netting 14 points apiece.
Villanova 85, St. John’s 74:The Wildcats led by 13 with 6:15 to play, but then turned the ballover four straight times, allowing the Storm to cut the lead tojust four.But Villanova made up for its miscues, scoring seven straightpoints to hold on for a conference victory.Mike Nardi scored 23 points and had eight assists, while Allan Rayadded 21 points.Nardi, a point guard, hit four-of-five three pointers, while St.John’s was led by Daryll Hill’s 20 points and Grady Reynold’s 16points and 12 rebounds.