The St. John’s men’s basketball team lost their 8th conference game Sunday in ugly fashion, shooting just over 30 percent from the field while being held to under 50 points for the first time all year.
The Red Storm entered the second half with a surprising 22-19 lead after shooting just 9-39 against No.5 Louisville, but failed to close the door on the Cardinals in the second half.
Though the Red Storm held the Cardinals to less than 40 percent shooting, Jerry Smith scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the final frame for the Cardinals, matching his team’s entire first half total.
“Jerry [Smith] did a great job of understanding how they were playing him defensively [and] going back door,” Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said. “And he learned a very valuable lesson tonight…because he basically won the game with his offensive display down the stretch. I’ve been trying to tell him since his freshman year that I always judge the best players by who plays in the last five minutes of the game when it’s close.”
St. John’s was still up in the game with less than 10 minutes to play, but the Cardinals went on a 9-0 run to turn a 36-34 deficit into a 43-36 lead of their own.
Louisville’s fullcourt press was effective in frustrating Red Storm point guard Malik Boothe and ending any chances of a Storm comeback. The Johnnies turned the ball over 12 times in the game, many of which were a product of the Cardinal press.
“We just got away from what we’d been doing – being scrappy, tough, going after loose balls with two hands,” Boothe said. “We were going after them with one hand, and they started going after them with two hands.”
“With Louisville you don’t know where they will come from,” said Red Storm head coach Norm Roberts. “They come from all different places. We probably got a couple of turnovers out of fatigue. But you have to fight through that. It’s part of the game.”
Justin Burrell struggled to finish down low throughout the game and went just 5-17 from the floor, including a 1-12 mark in the first half.
“I wasn’t frustrated with the shots I was taking, I was just frustrated with the fact that I was letting my team down,” Burrell said. “When they throw it into the post they expect me to do something with it. I was just more frustrated with that.”
Even Paris Horne, who has been the Storm’s leading scorer and spark plug on the court, struggled offensively. He went just 4-15 and managed less than 10 points for only the 4th time all season.
Sophomore forward Sean Evans may have been one of the lone bright spots on St. John’s half of the box score. He finished with 12 points and nine boards.