In Thursday night’s loss to Providence to open Big East play, rising star Shamorie Ponds exited Carnesecca Arena with a knee injury of his own, and both sat out as the team faced number 23-ranked Seton Hall on Sunday.
Against Providence, the Red Storm only trailed 41-40 midway through, in which Ponds put together an outstanding first half of 14 points, four rebounds and four assists before exiting during the second after a bad fall.
The Storm also struggled with containing Kyron Cartwright, who torched the Johnnies for 21 points, 15 assists and four steals while shooting 8-of-11 from the field, and 5-of-7 from three for his Friars, in what grew into a 94-72 rout over the Red Storm.
Redshirt junior Marvin Clark, who led St. John’s with 20 points and eight rebounds, said that the team needed to do some long thinking prior to their trip to New Jersey over the weekend.
“We all need to go home, look in the mirror, and figure out what we could do individually to help our team get better,” he said.
“We couldn’t get any stops tonight,” added head coach Chris Mullin. “It’s something we’ll look at in detail tomorrow. Tonight, we were horrendous.”
But against the Pirates on Sunday, without their dynamic backcourt, the Johnnies nearly pulled off a remarkable upset.
The Red Storm started off with Justin Simon and Bashir Ahmed in the backcourt, joined by Kassoum Yakwe, Tariq Owens, and Clark. The Red Storm were down 31-29 with over four minutes to go in the half, but the Pirates attempted to pull away from their Big East rival, unleashing a 12-4 run, carrying a 43-33 lead into the locker room.
To open the second half, the Johnnies cut the deficit with a 10-2 run, before the Pirates torched the Storm for 15 straight points, holding a 58-43 advantage with 13:04 left.
The Red Storm subsequently pecked away at the lead, and eventually brought the game back down to a one possession separation, as they trailed the Pirates 60-58 with 6:30 to go.
The Red Storm later came within one point of Seton Hall but failed to complete the comeback, though they showcased their resiliency in defeat, falling to Seton Hall, 75-70.
“They’re a tough team, this is kind of a rivalry game,” said Bronx-born Desi Rodriguez after the win over St. John’s. “They threw different defenses at us today and we had to adjust.”
Owens paced the Red Storm efforts with 19 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, while Clark added 18 points. Ahmed contributed wit 16 points from the second guard spot, while Simon recorded 15 while dishing out 10 assists from the point.
Brooklyn-native Khadeen Carrington led the Pirates with a game-high 24 points, nearly matching a season-high of 26 set on December 20 against Wagner College. Rodriguez registered 23 points and nine rebounds, while Angel Delgado put up another double-double notching 12 points and 12 boards while getting six assists from the post.
The Red Storm’s overall record now sits at 10-4, with an early 0-2 showing in Big East play. It is unclear when Ponds or Lovett will return to the line-up, but it is unlikely they will be available when the team takes on Creighton in Omaha on Wednesday night.