Undermanned St. John’s basketball uses big second half to top Providence

St. John's basketball (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

A shorthanded St. John’s basketball team used a second half push to defat Providence. 

It was an evening that was met with bad news for the St. John’s basketball team.

The Johnnies (15-10, 9-9 Big East) would be without star freshman point guard Posh Alexander as he continues to recover from a thumb injury suffered on February 23 against No. 8 Villanova.

The freshman’s absence showed early as the Red Storm dug an 11-point hole at halftime, 41-30, thanks to a 13-2 run by Providence (12-12, 8-10 Big East) to end the half.

However in the second half it was senior Rasheem Dunn that took over the game with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting after just scoring three points on 1-of-7 shooting in the first half, leading St. John’s to a 81-67 victory.

“My teammates and coach [Anderson] gave me confidence,” Dunn said of what the message was at halftime.

Head coach Mike Anderson jokingly wouldn’t elaborate on what he told his team at halftime, but it was clear they received the message.

“I felt like we came out in attack mode, defensively and offensively,” Anderson said after the victory.

St. John’s outscored Providence by 25 points in the second half, 51-26.

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Greg Williams Jr. went on a 5-0 run by himself with a thunderous dunk and corner three-pointer that brought St. John’s to within two and a Dunn layup with 11:44 to play that gave St. John’s its first lead since it was 7-4.

Williams Jr. was inserted into the starting lineup as a result of the Alexander injury and finished with 15 points in the victory.

Julian Champagnie posted a quiet double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds as did Isaih Moore with 10 points and 11 rebounds, as Anderson credited the junior forward with keeping the Johnnies in the game in the first half.

Providence star guard David Duke has the exact opposite game of his counterpart Dunn with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting before halftime and just three points on 1-of-6 from the floor after the break.

Nate Watson finished with 19 points and five rebounds on 9-of-13 shooting.

St. John’s basketball with a lot at stake in regular season finale

St. John’s has a chance to finish fourth in the Big East regular season standings but it’s not fully in control of its own destiny.

If Marquette (12-13, 7-11 Big East) beats Xavier (13-6, 6-6 Big East) and St. John’s beats Seton Hall (13-11, 10-8 Big East), the Johnnies would fall right behind UConn in the standings.

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However, the most important aspect is for the Red Storm to knock off the struggling Pirates and finish no worse than fifth, securing a bye into the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.

Seton Hall has lost three straight games and has not played well in its last five.

Head coach Mike Anderson said Posh Alexander (thumb) is still “day-to-day”.

Tipoff between the Johnnies and Pirates is scheduled for 7:00pm EST (Fox Sports 1) inside Carnesecca Arena on Saturday, March 6.