St. John’s basketball cannot capitalize on opportunities in loss to BYU

St. John's basketball head coach Mike Anderson (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball head coach Mike Anderson (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /

68. 478. 74. 540. Final

St. John’s basketball was unable to capitalize on its opportunities in the program’s first loss of the season.

The game was there to be had for the St. John’s basketball team but the Johnnies (3-1) were unable to capitalize against Brigham Young (4-1) in a 74-68 defeat.

Following the Red Storm’s best offensive game of the year, coupled with the worst shooting performance of the early season for BYU, both teams struggled to knock down its shots in the first half.

St. John’s shot 29.0-percent in the first half compared to 36.4-percent to BYU as the Cougars took a 29-23 lead into halftime.

However, the shooters rose to the occasion in the second half as both teams made over 50.0-percent of its attempts but St. John’s could never get over the hump of taking its first lead since it was 12-9.

“I thought they were more physical than us and I thought they were more experienced than we were,” head coach Mike Anderson explained.

Julian Champagnie was able to tie things up at 43-43 early in the second half, but that was the  closest St. John’s could get after pulling to within two points of the lead mid-way through the half.

In just his second game this season, the sophomore forward has taken the next step in his development and become the go-to scorer for the Johnnies, following up his career-high 29 points with a 25-point outing on Wednesday.

Despite being the team’s leader on the offensive end, Champagnie knows he can’t worry about the things out of his control.

“I don’t think about that honestly and truly. I tell my teammates all the time, win, lose or draw, there’s one team. It’s us together, so I don’t really think about being ‘that guy.’ That’s not something that I like to think about,” the Brooklyn, New York native said.

Champagnie was one of three Johnnies to reach double figures as Isaih Moore added 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting while Greg Williams Jr. chipped in ten points on an efficient 3-of-6.

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Moore and Marcellus Earlington both had some ill-advised shots in the loss, as the two combined to shoot 1-of-8 from 3-point range, and aside from the first basket of the game which was a triple from Moore, the two were 0-for-7.

Posh Alexander and Vince Cole were both held in check by the BYU defense, seeing just eight points between the Johnnies’ backcourt tandem on 2-of-14 shooting.

BYU guard Alex Barcello was unstoppable with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, 3-of-6 from downtown, and forward Gideon George added 13 points and 15 rebounds with the biggest boards of the night, fighting over Champagnie for a missed free throw and his missed put-back, which could have given St. John’s the ball back, down four, in the final 40 seconds.

George was ultimately fouled on his second put-back attempt and split a pair of free throws, pushing BYU’s lead to 71-66, followed by two more shots from the charity stripe 20 seconds later to put the game on ice.

St. John’s basketball needs to get healthy for its final non-conference games

For the third straight game, St. John’s was without senior guard Rasheem Dunn (concussion) and the Johnnies could have used him on Wednesday.

Anderson explained how he thought his team was afraid to go inside against the tall front-court of BYU, but rest assured the ever-attacking Dunn would have been forcing his way to the basket, trying to draw fouls and get to the free throw line.

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“I thought we should have attacked more. I thought we settled. Sometimes, they’re leaving you open for a reason,” the St. John’s head coach said.

St. John’s will head back to Queens with a split in Connecticut and prepare to host Stony Brook (0-1)  on Sunday afternoon with tip-off scheduled for 2:00pm EST (FS1).

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