The St. John’s basketball defense was overwhelmed in the second half against Dayton.
The St. John’s basketball team won on Thursday afternoon because of its defense and lost on Friday afternoon because of its defense.
It’s the growing pains of putting an entirely new roster together to learn an entirely new concept of defending, but head coach Rick Pitino is still not pleased with how his team performed.
“I wasn’t overly disappointing with [losing to] Michigan, but I’m overly disappointed [losing] tonight,” Pitino said after the Red Storm fell, 88-81, to Dayton.
“We’re losing because we can’t pay attention to a scouting report.”
The Johnnies allowed Dayton to shoot 51.8-percent from the floor and 41.2-percent from 3-point range as the Flyers hung 50 points on the scoreboard after halftime.
“We got guys that just care about offense and they don’t know how to defend.”
DaRon Holmes II, a Preseason All-Atlantic 10 First Team selection, led the charge with 21 points and six rebounds but Nate Santos’ 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting is what hurt the Red Storm the most.
“We are losing games because we cannot absorb scouting,” Pitino reiterated multiple times.
Joel Soriano had the best game offensively for the Red Storm with 21 points and nine rebounds but the Hall of Famer is not excusing his performance defensively.
“Joel, tonight, was all part of the equation,” Pitino stated. “He let [DaRon Holmes II] have a great night because he didn’t play [defense] correctly.”
St. John’s basketball cannot sustain positive play after halftime
St. John’s, however, was playing well in the first half and held a 2-point lead, 40-38, at halftime despite Dayton shooting 51.7-percent in the opening stanza, but forced the Flyers into eight turnovers which resulted in 15 points for the Red Storm.
Dayton (3-1) only had three turnovers in the second half and shot 24 free throws.
“They backed off and got lazy…it’s just going to take time with these guys. They’ve never guard in their lives,” Pitino added.
“They have to learn [to defend], or they are going to keep losing.”
The Flyers used a 14-4 run to seize control of the game and never led the Johnnies get closer than six points, 76-70, with 4:59 remaining as the lead eventually grew to as many as 12 points in the final two minutes.
St. John’s (2-2) will play either No. 6 Houston or Utah in the 3rd Place Game on Sunday evening (5:30p.m. ET, ESPN2).