St. John’s basketball has worst night possible against No. 15 Villanova

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

The night could not have gone much worse for the St. John’s basketball team. 

Only the St. John’s basketball program could come out on the short end of a stick in a game that injuries dominated the talk before tipoff.

The Johnnies (13-10, 5-7 Big East) were hoping for the best for sophomore guard Posh Alexander (ankle) while Jay Wright sounded very pessimistic about the status of his guards Collin Gillespie (ankle) and Justin Moore (ankle) on Monday evening.

But Wright was just bluffing.

Not only did Gillespie and Moore play on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden but the duo started for No. 15 Villanova (18-6, 11-3 Big East) as Alexander sat on the bench with a walking boot on his right foot.

The writing was on the wall.

Villanova dominated for the first 35 minutes but needed to hang on for dear life in a 75-69 victory as the Johnnies made a late second half push in the final five minutes to make the game very interesting.

Tareq Coburn attempted a 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left which could have tied things up, but his triple just rimmed out.

St. John’s ended the game on a 23-9 run after Villanova led by 20 points, 66-46, with 4:27 to play.

“I don’t have an answer for you,” an exasperated Wright said trying to explain what happened to his team in the final five minutes.

“I wish I could give you [an answer]…I guess it’s college basketball man, Big East.”

Coburn was one of the many members of the Red Storm backcourt to struggle in the absence of Alexander with one point and missing all six of his shots.

“We had a good look…I have no problem with that particular shot,” St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson said of his team’s final meaningful possession.

Montez Mathis finished with just two points on 1-of-14 shooting.

However, more injuries hit the Red Storm as Julian Champagnie was in and out of the lineup with a finger, but more importantly, a hip/back injury after a hard fall in the first half.

Champagnie did not start the second half and was on the bench as St. John’s was in the midst of its furious comeback.

He finished with 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting from the floor.

Anderson said that the team knew on Monday night that Alexander would not play on Tuesday but did not have an update on Champagnie after the game.

He did not specify on the status of either player going forward other than Posh Alexander would be evaluated on a “day-to-day” basis.

The lone major positive for the Red Storm was the play of Aaron Wheeler, who carried the team on his shoulders with a career-high 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting.

Gillespie did not score (0-for-5) for the Wildcats but recorded ten rebounds in 26 minutes of action as Moore had a team-high 16 points and five rebounds on 4-of-10 shooting.

St. John’s basketball backs up against the wall, again

Every time St. John’s takes a step forward it takes two steps backwards.

ALSO READ: St. John’s splits weekend against Villanova and Xavier

After its home loss to then No. 15 Providence it won road games against Georgetown and Butler to make this week a massive one for its postseason hopes.

Now, with a loss to Villanova and injuries to its two star players it will be gut-check time once again for the Johnnies against No. 24 UConn (16-6, 7-4 Big East) on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden (12:00 p.m., FoxSports1).

Next. Injury update as tip-off with No. 15 Villanova nears. dark