The offensive burst of Creighton (18-6, 7-4 Big East) proved too much for St. John’s to overcome, as the team shot over 60 percent from the floor. While the Red Storm (13-11, 2-9) had a solid 82-point offensive output of their own, including a 45-point second half, they only hit on 41.9 percent from the field.
Despite a career outing from sophomore forward Marcellus Earlington, who came off the bench to lead with 25 points and 10 rebounds – and an overall 41-31 team rebounding advantage – it wasn’t enough to overtake Omaha on Saturday night.
“I thought the three-point line was the difference,” said coach Mike Anderson of Creighton, which shot a blistering 13-of-28 from three. “They had some momentum shots. We cut the lead to two on two occasions. I thought our guys fought, just didn’t have enough in the tank when it was all said and done.”
On Earlington’s effort, Anderson commended his constant work ethic leading up to the game.
“He’s a guy that works on it,” he said. “If you watch our team through the course of the year, we’re getting more guys that are starting to really get more confident in their roles with what they’re bringing to the table. I just want to see us put it all together on one night.”
The Red Storm still have yet to defeat a Big East team this season that isn’t the DePaul Blue Demons, and in their remaining seven regular season games, they’ll have sizable ground to account for in an explosive conference.
The Big East is expected to send at least six (and as many as seven) teams into the NCAA Tournament this spring after a down season last year.
In order for the Red Storm to shift course under coach Anderson, the team will need to end their seven-game stretch on a season-best run, despite tough matchups with nationally ranked Seton Hall and Villanova and other highly regarded clubs like Marquette, Butler and Creighton.
First up is Providence on Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena. The Red Storm came within five points of defeating the Friars in their first meeting, losing 63-58 on January 15 in Rhode Island.
The Johnnies managed to hold Providence to 35 percent shooting from the field and 23 percent from three, but it wasn’t enough to snag the road win.