Storm struggle in Big East

After losing its last two games at the hands of ranked opponents, the St. John’s men’s basketball team wanted to play a tight defensive game Sunday and control then-No. 22 Villanova’s fantastic guard play.

But it was Villanova (14-3, 2-2) who put on a defensive clinic and couldn’t seem to miss a shot on offense. The Wildcats shot 58 percent while holding the Red Storm to an abysmal 38 percent from the field and 37 percent from the three point line.

Villanova took a 19-3 lead in the game’s opening six minutes and didn’t look back, capitalizing on five Red Storm turnovers.
Although Scottie Reynolds played just 20 minutes due to foul trouble, the Red Storm could not stop the likes of Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson. The duo combined for 31 points in the 76-57 Villanova win. Cunningham shot 7-10 from the field.

“I’ll give Villanova a lot of credit, they’re a real good basketball team,” head coach Norm Roberts said. “They did a good job pressuring us and getting us out of our offense. We let them get off to such a good start and that didn’t help.”

The Wildcats gave the Red Storm fits in just trying to move the ball up the floor, causing 19 St. John’s turnovers and playing a tight half-court defense, forcing mismatched one-on-one match-ups with the shot clock winding down.

“When we turn it over, it’s not like it’s under the basket and we can hustle back and get our defense set,” Roberts told Newsday. “We’re turning it over in the open court and it’s leading to easy baskets.”

D.J. Kennedy led all scorers with 18 points and also had eight rebounds.

Freshman Quincy Roberts tied a career high with 14 points despite predominantly playing out of position at point guard in the absence of Malik Boothe, who is still out with a wrist injury.

The loss to Villanova was the team’s third straight loss to a ranked opponent. It had also been the Red Storm’s third game in a week, and its fourth straight against a ranked opponent. The Red Storm are now 10-7 (1-4 Big East) for the season.

“We kind of came out flat, kind of came out sluggish,” Paris Horne told the New York Post. “We should have come out with more intensity.”

Conversely, Villanova hadn’t played a game since its Jan. 10 home loss to Louisville and welcomed the opportunity of being well rested against a tired opponent.

St. John’s hasn’t won since its stunning upset of then-No. 7 Notre Dame.

“I hate losing, everything is darker when you’re losing,” Justin Burrell told the Daily News. “It’s the worst feeling in the world.”

Burrell finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.

The Red Storm return to Carnesecca Arena on Thursday to play Cincinnati.