St. John’s basketball cannot hold double-digit lead in Hinkle Fieldhouse

St. John's basketball (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
St. John's basketball (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

73. 478. 76. 472. Final/OT

The St. John’s basketball team could not hold a double-digit lead against Butler. 

Hinkle Magic is real, just ask anyone within the St. John’s basketball program over the last seven years.

The basketball cathedral had another magic trick in store on Tuesday night as the red-hot Johnnies, winners of six in a row were looking to inch closer to an NCAA Tournament berth against the Butler Bulldogs (7-10, 6-8).

St. John’s (13-8, 7-7) raced out to a 16-point lead with 6:53 to play in the first half but that lead was trimmed all the way down to two before the Red Storm scored the last six points going into halftime.

Head coach Mike Anderson, who was looking for career win No. 400 on Tuesday night, saw his team go up ten in the second half but, again, the feisty ‘Dawgs battled back, taking a four-point lead in the second half.

“We got the lead early-on and I think that when we get momentum, we have to continue doing the things that got us the momentum. I think we got away from it, came down and got quick shots up and gave them some momentum,” Anderson said following the loss.

Big shots by Julian Champagnie and Rasheem Dunn pulled St. John’s even with Butler, 66-66.

Dylan Addae-Wusu gave the Johnnies a two-point lead with a tough driving layup and the Red Storm got the stop it needed on the other end and called timeout.

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All St. John’s needed to do was in-bound the ball and hit two free throws and it would have had its seventh straight win but Dunn bobbled the in-bounds pass from Addae-Wusu and Butler had life.

The Bulldogs could have opted for the win, but Aaron Thompson, who was spectacular in the second half, got a step on Champagnie and converted a tough layup to send the game to overtime.

Both teams traded baskets but a steal of Champagnie by Myles Tate with the Red Storm down by one, as well as two made free throws by the freshman gave Butler a three-point lead, 76-73, with 30 seconds to play.

“I thought that our guys played well enough to win, but we just didn’t finish,” Anderson said.

St. John’s had three opportunities to try and draw closer, or tie the game, but a missed layup by Addae-Wusu, a missed three-pointer by Champagnie, and a missed last second attempt by Posh Alexander snapped the six game winning streak.

Champagnie led St. John’s with 19 points in the loss.

St. John’s basketball resume outlook

Butler is a better basketball team than what their record says and they’ve been playing that way of late.

Including Tuesday’s victory, the Bulldogs have now won two games in a row and nearly erased a double-digit second half deficit at Marquette.

However, their record is still sub-.500 and this will be categorized as a ‘bad loss’ for the Johnnies in hopes of making the NCAA Tournament.

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St. John’s now has losses against Georgetown, Butler, and Marquette on its resume, three teams with losing records overall and in the conference.

However, there are still many opportunities left for the Red Storm including games against Villanova, Seton Hall, Xavier, and potentially UConn, all of which are at Carnesecca Arena expect for the rematch with the Wildcats.

“I told the guys that one game won’t make the season and one game won’t kill you,” the St. John’s head coach explained, “With that being said, let’s learn from it. We know that we can play better, so we just ran out of time tonight.”

St. John’s is not slated to return to the court until Tuesday, February 16 against Xavier (11-2, 4-2 Big East), but that could change given the last-minute scheduling chaos that has been seen throughout the 2020-21 season.