A chance at an upset loss went by the wayside for the St. John’s basketball team against UConn.
It felt like the St. John’s basketball team had no business being within striking distance of the UConn Huskies (11-4, 2-2 Big East) in the final minutes of regulation, but it was.
The Johnnies (9-5, 1-2 Big East) picked up monster 3-pointers from Aaron Wheeler, to bring the Red Storm within one, and Julian Champagnie, who gave the team a one point lead with 4.8 seconds left to play.
All St. John’s needed was one stop and it was going to get its first signature victory of the season.
UConn had to go the length of the floor with no timeouts left.
The initial defense was outstanding from the Johnnies as it forced Andre Jackson to throw a home run ball the length of the floor to avoid an inbounding violation.
However, Dylan Addae-Wusu was able to tip the pass but it went out of bounds across from the UConn sidelines giving the Huskies a great look at the basket, and a free timeout thanks to an officials review, with 4.1 seconds left.
“We should’ve been in place,” head coach Mike Anderson said after the game.
“Actually, it should have been a steal.”
Tyrese Martin missed a game winning jumper for the Huskies but Adama Sanogo was fouled on a put back attempt with one second left and went to the line with a chance to win the game.
Sanogo made the first free throw but missed the second to send the game to overtime at 71.
Champagnie made the first bucket over the extra five minutes but UConn rattled off an 11-0 run to seize control of the game, winning 86-78.
The game was punctuated by an ‘and-one’ from Jackson with 1:21 left.
Julian Champagnie ended with a game-high 27 points while Adama Sanogo finished with 26 points and 18 rebounds, continuing a stretch of opposing big men dominating the Red Storm.
UConn blocked 14 shots in the game and the Huskies were only whistled for two fouls in the final 16:30 of the game.
St. John’s basketball disappointed, yet encouraged with loss
The Red Storm fan base is done with moral victories, and rightly so, but St. John’s is still taking positives out of its most recent loss.
“That was probably the best game they have played all year long…I know this team isn’t going to let go of the rope,” Anderson said.
St. John’s led by as many as seven points in the second half on Saturday against Providence on the road before stumbling to lose by ten.
“It’s only three games in our conference, there is still a lot of basketball left,” the St. John’s head coach continued.
The Johnnies have now lost games in which Champagnie has scored 32, 24, and 27 points against Indiana, Kansas, and UConn, respectively.
“Me personally, I think we are heading in the right direction,” Champagnie explained.
“Every game has its pros and its cons…no chance anyone is going to beat us on our home court if we play like that,” the Big East Player of the Year contender added.
St. John’s will host lowly Georgetown (6-6, 0-1 Big East), in a must win game, on Sunday afternoon (4:30 p.m.) at Madison Square Garden.