St. John’s basketball escapes red-hot Monmouth, familiar foe

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

A winning streak was snapped in Queens on Thursday night by the St. John’s basketball team. 

On a night where New Jersey college basketball teams dominated the talk around the sport, the St. John’s basketball team would not let the Garden State get a clean sweep on Thursday.

No. 21 Seton Hall upset No. 7 Texas, Rutgers stunned No. 1 Purdue at the buzzer, but it was the Red Storm (7-2) who were able to keep the the upset minded Monmouth Hawks (7-2) at bay despite a flurry in the final minutes.

St. John’s looked like it was going cruise to a victory in the second half as the Johnnies had all the momentum with O’mar Stanley going to the free throw line to extend the lead to 13 but the freshman missed both and Monmouth came charging.

The Hawks would cut the St. John’s lead to two in the final seconds but Dylan Addae-Wusu pushed the lead back to three, 86-83, at the charity stripe.

However, the sophomore guard would miss his second free throw attempt and it was the smallest guy on the floor, Posh Alexander, who came flying along the baseline to throw the ball off of a Monmouth player and keep possession for the Red Storm.

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Alexander then saved a potential St. John’s turnover on the following possession as he corralled the loose ball and was fouled in the process.

“Those are just two good — great — plays I made for my team,” Alexander said following the game as Julian Champagnie corrected him to say the plays were “great”.

The reigning Big East Freshman of the Year iced the game with two free throws, winning 88-83.

“I was just thinking about winning the game,” the St. John’s point guard said.

Alexander, who was coming off a career high 23 points, ended the night with 21 points and five rebounds.

“[Alexander] just has a feel for it. It’s hard to teach that,” head coach Mike Anderson said following the victory.

“Some guys shine when the lights are the brightest.”

Addae-Wusu added 11 points, six rebounds, and seven assists while Champagnie chipped in 16 points and four boards.

Stef Smith put together his best game since the team’s loss against Indiana with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, 3-of-4 from downtown, off the bench.

“We have to learn how to finish and close…but I told our guys I thought we got a little bit better today,” Anderson said.

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Monmouth entered Queens with a seven game winning streak, including an upset of Cincinnati on the road in late November.

The Hawks are led by a villain to many Queens, Shavar Reynolds, as the Seton Hall graduate transfer was scorching in the first half with 19 points and finished with a game-high 25 points.

George Papas, the leading scorer for Monmouth entering the game, was held scoreless in the first half before adding 11 points in the second half, six from the free throw line, on 2-of-12 shooting for the game.

Aaron Wheeler and Tareq Coburn did not play for St. John’s. Both players were dressed and available to play.

St. John’s will host Colgate (4-6) on Sunday afternoon before playing Pittsburgh (3-6) at Madison Square Garden next Saturday in the team’s final tune-up before Big East Conference play.

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