Less than 48 hours after winning a pivotal sixth conference game at Carnesecca Arena against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, St. John’s was back on the road to face off in its first of two games against Providence at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Red Storm (15-12, 6-8 Big East) senior forward Lamont Hamilton attempted to keep the Johnnies alive, leading the team with a 20-point effort, but the Johnnies ultimately fell 71-66 to the Friars (16-9, 6-6) Sunday afternoon. Providence sophomore guard Weyinmi Efejuku was the stand-out player of the night because of his execution on the offensive side of the floor. Efejuku, who finished with 22 points, also had help from sophomore guard Sharaud Curry, who finished with 18 points, and senior center Herbert Hill, who landed 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Sophomore forward Geoff McDermott aided Hill in the low post off the glass with 10 rebounds. The Johnnies had difficulty getting second chance points, being out-rebounded 39-24Hill and the other members of the front court (huge masses of 240 and 250 pounds) made it difficult for the Johnnies to box-out and be strong off the glass, but it did not completely stop freshman big man Qa’rraan Calhoun from grabbing six boards and finishing strong with 14 points.Hamilton tried to throw his weight around inside on both sides of the floor. On the offensive end, he was taking the ball inside when being fed properly and finishing, or at least drawing the foul. He was 10-for-10 from the line. On the defensive end, he was rebounding as hard as he could up against Hill and company, finishing with nine boards.Sophomore forward Anthony Mason, Jr. held his own with 19 points and had picked three pockets.Junior shooting guard Avery Patterson played a total of only 20 minutes-without scoring-and was taken out of the lineup after the first 12 seconds of the second half for not playing good defense. Patterson sat out the remaining 19:48 of the second half.”I wasn’t happy with the way [Patterson] was guarding defensively and it’s a tough time of the year right now,” coach Norm Roberts told the NY Post. “We got to guard. We got to guard. And we have to be tough.” The Johnnies could not go on a substantial run after being up by as much as seven in the first half. They saw that lead easily chipped away with the team efforts of the Friars’ 19-2 run sparked by Efejuku. The Johnnies led going into the half up by only two, 30-28.
With a 10-point advantage, Providence held their biggest lead at the 13:49 mark of the second half. St. John’s worked the deficit down to as little as three with 55 seconds remaining in regulation when Mason, Jr. connected on a three pointer from deep off an assist from junior guard Eugene Lawrence. And, for the second time the Johnnies brought it within three off another three pointer-this time by Calhoun with nine seconds left on the clock.
The physicality of the game remained throughout the whole 40 minutes. St. John’s could not regain the lead although they aggressively worked at it for the majority of the second half.
With the loss, St. John’s remains in 11th place in the Big East-enough to get them into the tournament. They have three games remaining on their schedule, including two against Big East opponents: away at Louisville and a home match against Providence.