Eight is not enough to top Mountaineers

With their leading scorer, leading rebounder and a full rosterintact, the St. John’s men’s basketball team lost 74-63 to WestVirginia on Jan. 28 at Alumni Hall.

Playing on the road for the first time since the sex scandalthat resulted in suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary actiontaken by the University, the eight remaining Red Storm playersheaded to WVU Coliseum with hope of winning its first Big East gameof the season.

After holding the Johnnies to just 22 first half points, adeeper and more talented West Virginia squad built on itscomfortable 19-point advantage at intermission, ultimately winning86-52 in front of 5,816 on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

St. John’s missed 15 of its first 20 shots, including five frombeyond the arc, thus digging itself an early hole. The 34-pointdefeat was the Red Storm’s most lopsided loss of the season and itstenth defeat in 11 games.

“It was a tough night during tough times for our guys,” St.John’s interim coach Kevin Clark told Newsday. “Things aredifficult. Life is difficult.”

It’s especially difficult when the team opts for a long, 10-hourbus ride through the night rather than spending the night andflying home in the morning.

St. John’s (5-16, 0-10) was led by sophomore guard Daryll Hill’sgame-high 21 points, but the former Cardozo standout shot just7-for-21 from the floor. Senior forward Kyle Cuffe added 17 pointsand eight rebounds in defeat.

West Virginia (13-8, 5-5) was without head coach John Beilein,who missed the game because of back spasms that flared up Wednesdayafternoon following a morning workout.

On the court, Beilein’s son, Patrick scored 19 points to leadthe Mountaineers, including five three-pointers.

Kevin Pittsnogle (14 points), Johannes Herber (13), D’or Fischer(12) and Tyler Ralph (11) led the WVU attack, as the home team made29-of-57 from the floor.

When the on-court beating had finally come to an end, the St.John’s players who didn’t break curfew and go to a strip club thatnight in Pittsburgh voiced their opinions on the sex scandal thathad struck the St. John’s campus and community, as quoted in localnewspapers.

Hill said he was angry at the players in question. “I can tellthem [I’m angry], but it’s their choice to listen,” he said. “Ithought it wasn’t right.”

Added graduate student Andre Stanley: “I chose not to go. It’snot my thing. I didn’t think anything would happen.”

Cuffe said the loss to the Panthers was a blessing in disguise,at least for himself.

“It wasn’t a matter of making a right or wrong decision,” hesaid. “I guess God was on my side. I wasn’t up to it. That’s how Iam after a loss.”

With just six games remaining, the Red Storm’s next challengecomes tonight as they take on Georgetown in a rematch of lastyear’s NIT Championship game.

From there, the Red Storm, which will miss the Big Easttournament barring a miracle, still has contests against VirginiaTech, Connecticut, Providence, Boston College and Notre Dame asthey search for their first conference win of the season.

 

Extra, Extras:

After sitting out two games due to his involvement in violatingteam rules after a 71-51 loss at Pittsburgh on Feb. 4, freshmanforward Tyler Jones has been reinstated after a two game suspensioneffective immediately, St. John’s interim coach Kevin Clarkannounced on Feb. 13.

Jones, who has played in 16 games this season, averaging 1.4points, 1.1 rebounds and 50 percent shooting (11-of-22) from thefield will be available for Wednesday night’s contest againstGeorgetown at Madison Square Garden.

The other two players who have been disciplined for violatingteam rules — freshman forward Lamont Hamilton and senior centerMohamed Diakite’s status with the team remains unchanged.

0-10 in Big East
St. John’s       52
West Virginia 86