St. John's basketball escapes furious Providence rally after airball at buzzer

It was a nail-biter at The Garden as the St. John's basketball team tangled with Providence.

Jan 10, 2024; New York, New York, USA; St. John's Red Storm center Joel Soriano (11) drives past
Jan 10, 2024; New York, New York, USA; St. John's Red Storm center Joel Soriano (11) drives past / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
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The game hung in the balance for the St. John's basketball team when it shouldn't have.

The 4.7 seconds left on the clock felt like an eternity.

Jayden Pierre, a Long Island Lutheran (NY) product, had the chance to be the hero for Providence inside Madison Square Garden but his 3-pointer at the buzzer fell very short.

St. John's won, 75-73.

"If we would've won by 20 [points] tonight, we would've went into Creighton and got our [backsides] handed to us," Rick Pitino said, albeit a little more colorfully.

But it looked like his team was going to win by 20 points.

The Red Storm (12-4, 4-1 Big East) built a 15-point lead, 20-5, to begin the game behind a scorching offense and tenacious defense.

Brady Dunlap, the freshman revelation in the last two weeks, had seven of the first ten points for the Johnnies.

"I don't think we could've played better," Pitino explained about his team's start.

However, the tide would turn after halftime in a major way.

Providence (11-5, 2-3 Big East) became the aggressors and St. John's couldn't stop its 16-4 run to begin the half.

It took the Friars grabbing its first lead of the game, 45-44, with 14:30 remaining for St. John's to get off the deck and throw another punch, but learned that it's nearly impossible to knockout Kim English's squad.

The Red Storm went on a 13-2 run, led by Daniss Jenkins, and built its double digit lead again, which grew to as many as 13 points, 61-48, with 8:15 left.

"I just told the guys just to take deep breaths because we have to fight fire with fire," Jenkins said of his mentality before the St. John's run. "We can't lay down, we have to attack."

But Providence star Devin Carter knew time was still on the clock and started to take over.

He finished with career-high 31 points and scored nine of the final 11 points for the Friars, but fouled out after RJ Luis secured an offensive rebound with 4.7 seconds left after Dunlap missed two free throws, which could have given St. John's a 3-point lead.

Luis would only make one of his two free throws before Pierre's game-winner missed.

It would have been a tough loss to digest for the Red Storm, but it doesn't have to worry about that anymore. It's a chance to learn from its mistakes with another win, specifically closing out games, but still equals its best start in Big East play since the 2000-01 season.

Things are never easy in the Big East but St. John's will face one of its toughest challenges this season with back-to-back road games coming against No. 22 Creighton and Seton Hall, meeting the Bluejays on Saturday afternoon (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX).

Tied with the UConn and Pirates for first in the conference, the Red Storm have a serious opportunity to make noise in Rick Pitino's first season.