St. John’s basketball swept by Villanova in dismal offensive showing

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

The St. John’s basketball team was swept by Villanova after a horrid offensive showcase. 

Madison Square Garden was packed with 13,504 fans hoping to see the St. John’s basketball program rattle off its third straight victory and find itself closer to the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Instead, all that echoed throughout The World’s Most Famous Arena as time expired was “Let’s Go ‘Nova!” as Villanova (10-10, 4-5 Big East) emerged victorious, 57-49, in a painfully ugly game while completing the regular season sweep of the Red Storm.

St. John’s (13-7, 3-6 Big East) put together its worst offensive performance in a Big East home game since February 24, 2013 against Pittsburgh when it scored just 47 points in a 16-point loss and its worst scoring output overall since 2017 when the Red Storm lost 70-45 inside Hinkle Fieldhouse.

The Johnnies led 44-38, its largest lead of the game, following a 3-pointer from AJ Storr with 8:32 to play but managed just five points until the final buzzer sounded.

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Eric Dixon’s only made field goal in ten attempts gave Villanova a 47-46 lead with 4:31 left and the ‘Cats never looked back.

However, the game started ominously as St. John’s superstar Joel Soriano was injured on the game’s first possession after two Villanova players rolled into his knee.

“My knee went inward a little bit and felt weird. It was hurting and throbbing but I walked it off and I was fine,” Soriano said of the injury scare.

The Big East Player of the Year candidate remained on the court before finally getting to his feet and limping to the St. John’s bench where he would shortly return and finish with a team-high 14 points and 16 rebounds.

St. John’s basketball hurts itself with lineup combinations

AJ Storr was noticeably absent from the floor when the Wildcats took a four point lead, 52-48, after a free throw with 25.6 seconds left and the Red Storm still having two timeouts remaining.

Andre Curbelo had the ball stolen away by Dixon and Brandon Slater, who scored all of his 16 points in the second half, put the game away with a breakaway dunk.

Curbelo and Posh Alexander were a combined 4-for-17 from the field with eight turnovers as the team combined for 17 turnovers which led to 13 points for Villanova.

“I thought our guard play was not good, not up to par. I don’t even think our forward situation was up to par, to be honest with you,” head coach Mike Anderson explained.

Dylan Addae-Wusu was the only other player to show up offensively for the Johnnies with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting as the team shot 32.1-percent from the floor (18-of-56).

“We had layups…If you get layups, what other kind of shots do you want?” Anderson said.

“The bottom line is you have to put the ball in the hole.”

Things do not get easier for St. John’s as a trip to Creighton (11-8, 5-3 Big East) awaits on Wednesday night (9:00p.m. EST, CBSSN).

“We’ll find out…we have our work cutout for us,” Anderson concluded on how he thinks the team will respond against the Bluejays.