St. John’s basketball needs second half rally to get by St. Francis Brooklyn

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

It was a late second half rally that St. John’s basketball needed to get passed St. Francis Brooklyn. 

It was not pretty in any definition of the word but it was a loss that the St. John’s basketball team simply could not afford.

The Johnnies (4-1) were dealt another injury blow prior to the game as Posh Alexander was ruled out with a lower leg strain that caused him to be in a walking boot on his right leg.

Freshman guard Rafael Pinzon remained out with a broken ring finger on his left hand but the Red Storm saw the return of Tareq Coburn who missed last Saturday’s game with a non-COVID illness.

After putting forth an ugly showing against Fairleigh Dickinson, St. John’s followed that up with an even uglier showing on Tuesday night against St. Francis Brooklyn (0-4).

“It was a gut check,” Mike Anderson said after the game.

The Terriers entered the game shooting 26.7-percent from 3-point range and managed to connect  on 11-of-21 attempts from downtown in the first half.

St. Francis led by as many as 13 points, 19-6, in the first half and by as many as ten in the second half before St. John’s used a 16-3 run to take a lead and never look back winning 76-70, despite some carless turnovers and missed free throws in the final two minutes.

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“Every team has their mental lapses. We are having ours now,” forward Julian Champagnie said following the victory.

Anderson opted to play four guards around Champagnie as he was the lone forward on the court for the Johnnies in the final eight minutes of the game and it worked to perfection.

The Brooklyn, New York native said that he does not think the lineup was the deciding factor for St. John’s on Tuesday night, rather it was how hard the team worked in the final ten minutes of the game.

“We matched their personnel and we were able to keep them out of the lane,” Anderson said of his lineup combination.

Champagnie finished with a team-high 23 points despite not making a 3-pointer.

The potential All-American candidate was 10-of-20 from the field and also had six rebounds and five assists.

Montez Mathis had his best game as a member of the Red Storm with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor.

The Terriers out-rebounded the Johnnies 40-26 in the outing, the lowest rebounding total for the Johnnies since they had 24 rebounds in a home loss against Butler in 2019.

St. Francis did not make a 3-pointer in the second half, finishing 11-of-26 from downtown while St. John’s shot 3-of-14 from beyond the arc.

St. John’s basketball with one final tune up before Kansas

After two uninspiring efforts since picking up its first loss of the season to Indiana, St. John’s will only have one more game before the No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks (3-0) come to town next Friday.

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The Johnnies will play host to NJIT (1-2) on Saturday afternoon (4 p.m.).

Mike Anderson said following the game that he will not speculate on when Posh Alexander will return but the head coach did not rule him out for Saturday’s game.

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