Pitt tops Johnnies at MSG

The St. John’s men’s basketball team is still feeling growing pains as it took another conference loss, this time to No. 13 Pittsburgh last Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, 81-57.

The Johnnies (7-10, 1-5 Big East) fought hard, but struggled to keep an offensive rhythm. Anthony Mason, Jr. led all scorers in the loss with a career high 29 points while grabbing five rebounds.

“I think it was, for us, a great sign,” said Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon. “We came off a loss and responded in a lot of good ways. Our preparation was good and it carried over today.”

Pittsburgh junior forward Sam Young went 10-of-17 from the field to score 26 points, leading the Panthers (16-3, 4-2) to the victory over the Red Storm. Young received help from teammates senior guard Ronald Ramon and freshman forward DeJuan Blair, who tacked on 16 and 10 points, respectively.
“Our whole game was to pressure the point,” said St. John’s head coach Norm Roberts after mentioning physical difficulties with his point guards senior Eugene Lawrence and freshmen Malik Boothe. “Once we couldn’t pressure the point, it changed our whole game defensively. That affected our defense on what we could do.”

Overall, St. John’s shot 47.1 percent from the field, 25 percent from the line and 37.5 percent from the perimeter. Pittsburgh out-rebounded the Red Storm 36-29 and capitalized on the 16 Johnnies turnovers while converting them to 21 points.

“I thought Mason was unbelievable,” said Dixon. “We were guarding him and he still hit shots… It was just one of those days that we were hitting shots.”

St. John’s trailed Pittsburgh by 11 at the half, 38-27. St. John’s did not hold the lead for any of the first half. But, the team was able to bring an 11-point deficit down to five after a steal by freshman wingman D.J. Kennedy in transition and a clean-up by freshman forward Sean Evans at the 7:23 mark, making the score 23-18 Pittsburgh.

That would be the closest the Johnnies would come to catching up to the Panthers for the rest of
the game.

“Everyone is getting tired of losing here,” said Boothe. “We have young guys on this team. It is just the lumps we have to take if we are going to get better.”