St. John’s basketball suffocated by No. 4 UConn’s hounding defense

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

No. 4 UConn showed why its a championship contender against the St. John’s basketball team.

Just days ago the St. John’s basketball team did not know if it would host No. 4 UConn on Wednesday night in the first ever women’s college basketball game at UBS Arena.

Connecticut had its weekend game against DePaul postponed because it did not have the Big East required seven scholarship players available to play after its roster has been ravished by injuries.

Superstar Paige Bueckers remains out for the season after tearing her ACL in the summer, Caroline Ducharme and Ayanna Patterson remained out with concussions, and Hall of Fame head coach Geno Auriemma has been out with illness.

However, the Huskies had eight players available against the Red Storm as it saw Auriemma return to the bench and star sophomore Azzi Fudd (knee) took the floor in her first game since December 4.

It all was the perfect storm for UConn (14-2, 7-0 Big East) as St. John’s could not find any easy shots against the Huskies hounding defense in its wire-to-wire 82-52 victory.

However, the Red Storm battled (14-2, 5-2 Big East) and only found itself only trailing by four, 17-13, at the end of the first quarter.

Or so it thought.

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A review showed a Unique Drake shot came after the clock had expired was disallowed and the Huskies led by six, 17-11.

“As much as it’s two points, it’s a different number up there so you feel a little different going into that second quarter,” head coach Joe Tartamella explained.

UConn would use a 12-3 run to open the second quarter and create separation between the Red Storm and never looked back.

Fairfield transfer Lou Lopez Senechal led the way with 20 points for the Huskies as four different players registered at least 14 points.

Dorka Juhasz flirted with a triple-double after her 18 point, 10 rebound, and seven assist night as Fudd added 14 points in her return to the court.

Connecticut scored 24 points off of 13 turnovers from St. John’s and the Huskies bullied the Red Storm in the paint with 44 points.

St. John’s was held to just 38.0-percent shooting from the floor and connected on just 3-of-14 shots (21.4-percent) from 3-point range.

St. John’s basketball hoping to regroup quickly

Connecticut remains the class of the Big East and one of the few favorites to win the National Championship in April and St. John’s cannot get too down on itself for dropping Wednesday’s game.

Regardless if the Huskies have 13 players, 7 players, or 5 players on the floor the program is on another level than the rest of the league at this point.

St. John’s, looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016, is in the midst of one of its toughest stretches of the season after dropping two of its last three games

“We just have to keep our heads high and always staying focused on the next game,” senior wing Kadaja Bailey said after the loss.

Bailey led the way for St. John’s against UConn with 17 points.

The Red Storm travel to face No. 25 Villanova (15-3, 6-1 Big East)on Saturday afternoon (2:00p.m. ET, FloSports) before completing its brutal two and a half week stretch with a home game against Marquette (10-6, 3-4 Big East) and a trip to DePaul (10-7, 3-3 Big East).

“We have a stretch here coming up where we have to be great. And that’s what we have been building towards,” Tartamella said.