St. John’s basketball: Andre Curbelo gives spark in return from suspension

St. John's basketball guard Andre Curbelo (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
St. John's basketball guard Andre Curbelo (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Andre Curbelo provided the spark for St. John’s basketball in his return from suspension. 

Andre Curbelo has been in the middle of the spotlight for the St. John’s basketball team — for better or for worse — since he transferred from Illinois in the offseason and Wednesday night in Washington D.C. was no different.

The latest drama surrounding the point guard was during his suspension when he stunningly appeared in the media room minutes before tipoff against No. 18 Creighton on Saturday night and seemed confused as to why he was not playing.

Curbelo’s suspension was lifted after three games against Georgetown and his play was a major catalyst in the 79-70 victory for the Red Storm with 11 points, three rebounds, three assists, and five steals in 23 minutes off the bench.

The Long Island Lutheran product gave the Johnnies a four point lead, 72-68, with 4:40 to play via an elbow jumper that got two friendly bounces off the rim before going through the net.

Curbelo iced the game with a steal and two free throws with 20.3 seconds remaining after Posh Alexander scored five straight points with 1:07 left to put the game out of reach.

Five different players scored in double figures for St. John’s (17-12, 7-11 Big East) with Joel Soriano leading the way with 16 points and eight rebounds while David Jones chipped in 14 points and 12 boards.

Rafael Pinzon remained suspended after missing his second consecutive game after not adhering to team standards.

St. John’s basketball overcomes deficiencies in victory

The game, however, was not crisply played and issues that have surrounded both teams throughout the season continued.

St. John’s jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first half, 38-23, but it failed to put the Hoyas away early as Patrick Ewing’s team tied the game on two separate occasions in the second half but failed to take the lead.

ALSO READ: St. John’s pulls off upset of season against No. 4 UConn

It has been a theme with the Red Storm this season of not being able to find the extra gear to create more separation between them and its opponent with careless turnovers and poor shot selection.

Georgetown (7-22, 2-16 Big East) could not handle the occasional hounding pressure from the Johnnies, which it has not showcased nearly as often this season, and turned the basketball over 20 times in the loss. It tied a season high in turnovers for the Hoyas as the Red Storm capitalized for 26 points off of the miscues.

“We haven’t done that in a while in terms of getting after the ball,” head coach Mike Anderson said.

“I think it’s that time of the year where we have to get up and go.”

St. John’s has now won three of its last four games and after a securing the season sweep of Georgetown the Johnnies will look to do the same against No. 18 UConn (21-7, 10-7 Big East) on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.