It was a much needed road victory for the St. John’s basketball team over Butler.
Hinkle Fieldhouse has been a house of horrors for the St. John’s basketball team and it looked like the Johnnies were headed to its eight straight loss in the building as Butler opened up a nine point second half lead and every possession felt like it resulted in an open 3-pointer.
However, Mike Anderson changed the game and went to a zone defense to throw Butler (11-12, 4-8 Big East) off its rhythm and it worked to perfection for the Red Storm.
St. John’s (13-9, 5-6 Big East) quickly rattled off an 11-0 run to get back in the game and handed the game off to the trio of Joel Soriano, Aaron Wheeler, and Julian Champagnie to close things out in its 75-72 victory.
The three scored 14 of the final 17 points for the Johnnies while the other three points all came at the free throw line and gave the Johnnies a lead it would not surrender thanks to Dylan Addae-Wusu and Tareq Coburn.
After struggling from the charity stripe all season, the free throw line was the reason why St. John’s was victorious on Saturday afternoon making 21-of-25 of its attempts and each of its last six shots from the line.
“The difference, also, was that we made free throws. You look at the games we’ve come up short, it’s because [we were] not making free throws,” Anderson said after the game.
Four of the five St. John’s starters were in double figures as Champagnie led the way with 21 points and eight rebounds.
However, despite the good vibes in St. John’s first win in Hinkle since 2013-14 an injury looms large over the Red Storm program with Posh Alexander.
Alexander looked to roll his ankle late in the first half and after briefly exiting the game the reigning Big East Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year returned to the court but could not play at his capabilities and watched the rest of the game on the bench.
Anderson didn’t have an update on his point guard after the game but Alexander did have a bag of ice on his ankle as the final minutes ran off the clock.
St. John’s basketball with life once again
It looked like all hope was lost for the Johnnies after Tuesday’s loss to Providence but the team responded with back-to-back wins to give themselves a chance to get back on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
No. 12 Villanova (17-6, 10-3 Big East) and No. 17 UConn (15-6, 6-4 Big East), both Quadrant 1 opportunities, come to Madison Square Garden this week to play St. John’s.
One win creates more of a buzz for the Red Storm. Two wins and a shot at the Big Dance is real.
Tipoff between St. John’s and Villanova is 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night (FoxSports1).