St. John’s basketball stunned at buzzer by Pittsburgh

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

Pittsburgh stunned the St. John’s basketball team at the buzzer in Madison Square Garden. 

In a game where both teams should have lost, Pittsburgh’s Jamarious Burton drilled a fadeaway over St. John’s basketball center Joel Soriano with 0.4 seconds left to defeat the Johnnies, 59-57.

St. John’s (8-3, 1-0 Big East) was dealt the news prior to the game that junior superstar Julian Champagnie would not play after testing positive for COVID-19 and his void was felt in a massive way.

Champagnie is averaging 20.3 points per game and St. John’s looked lost on offense without him, specifically in the second half in which the Johnnies only scored 22 points.

“We found out a couple days ago [about Champagnie’s positive test], but I told our guys someone has to step up,” head coach Mike Anderson said following the loss.

Sources said that the junior tested positive on Friday and will be in isolation for at ten days, according to New York State guidelines.

Champagnie will miss the team’s next scheduled game against Butler on December 23 and his status for Marquette on December 29 is uncertain as he must pass cardiac tests, required by the university, before returning to the floor.

However, no one stepped up in his absence as the combination of Montez Mathis, Aaron Wheeler, and Stef Smith were 4-of-22 from the field in their Garden debuts.

Dylan Addae-Wusu, who tied the game up with 8.1 seconds left at the free throw line, led the team with a meager 12 points while Posh Alexander ended the afternoon with 11 points.

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Fordham transfer Joel Soriano, who arguably the best game of his Red Storm career, was the only other player in double figures with 10 points and nine rebounds.

“It’s a tough loss, but we gotta learn from it. We’re gonna get a lot of games like this…” Anderson continued.

St. John’s shot 34.9-percent from the field and just 29.0-percent from the floor in the second half. The team led by as many as ten points in the first half.

Pittsburgh (4-7, 0-1 ACC) was 32.0-percent from the floor and shot 28.0-percent in the second half.

The difference in the game was at the free throw line as the Red Storm were just 7-of-14 while the Panthers were a nearly perfect 23-for-28.

Anderson did not comment on the officiating in the game but when asked again about the favorable Pittsburgh whistle in the second half he said he was frustrated with “more than a few” calls.

Burton finished with 20 points for Pittsburgh while Mohamadou Gueye ended the day with 15 points and six rebounds.

St. John’s basketball facing major uphill climb

St. John’s entered the season with NCAA Tournament aspirations and after losses to its biggest opponents on the schedule, Indiana and Kansas, the Johnnies put together a string of uninspiring wins against a poor non-conference schedule.

Saturday was the culmination of a bad schedule and erratic play coming back to cost the Red Storm as the team has to find several key victories in Big East play to make the Field of 68.

The Red Storm already lost one opportunity to get a significant victory after No. 16 Seton Hall had to forfeit Monday’s scheduled game because of positive Covid tests within its program.

The forfeit victory will only be recognized in conference standings and will not be used in the benefit of St. John’s in any other measure.

St. John’s must find a way to win its next four games, with or without Julian Champagnie, if it wants any shot at the Big Dance (Butler, Marquette, at. Georgetown, DePaul).

Next. St. John’s gets forfeit victory over Seton Hall. dark