St. John's basketball sees another halftime lead vanish in loss to Providence

It was the same story on another night for the St. John's basketball team as a halftime lead was lost in defeat.
Feb 13, 2024; Providence, Rhode Island, USA; Providence Friars forward Josh Oduro (13) shoots the
Feb 13, 2024; Providence, Rhode Island, USA; Providence Friars forward Josh Oduro (13) shoots the / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

It feels like the nightmare that won't end for the St. John's basketball team.

Another halftime lead that eventually leads to a loss. This time it came in Rhode Island against the Providence Friars, 75-72, and it had a new twist.

The Johnnies (14-11, 6-8 Big East) looked like they were going to get steam rolled back to Queens after falling behind 28-15, but a switched flipped on a spark from Sean Conway, who scored nine points in 13 minutes in the first half.

It led to a 23-5 run for St. John's going into halftime and a 38-33 advantage The Johnnies finally did what opponents have done to them on a consistent basis, take mometum into the locker room.

Then, the same story reared its ugly head as the lead didn't last five minutes in the second half.

"It's not fun losing on the road, but I'm real proud of these guys. They fought their as-- off the entire night," a surprisingly upbeat Rick Pitino said after the defeat.

Josh Oduro, Providence's star center who was playing in his first game since the birth of his child, took over in the second half with 26 of his 28 points and proved to be too much to handle for either Joel Soriano or Zuby Ejiofor, who started over the struggling Soriano for the first time this season.

The Friars (16-9, 7-7 Big East) would lead by as many as seven points in the second half but St. John's answered, tying the game at 70 with 1:37 remaining on a jumper from Daniss Jenkins. Corey Floyd Jr. broke the St. John's press and the tie just 11 seconds later, giving Providence a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

Conway missed a jumper on the next possession and Oduro got a hook shot to fall late in the shot clock, but the Johnnies still gave themselves a chance. Devin Carter went 1-for-2 from the free throw line with 19.2 seconds left and St. John's missed two 3-pointers from Jenkins and Jordan Dingle.

The possession was scrambled and Rick Pitino didn't want to call his final timeout because he believed Providence would foul and not let the Johnnies get a game-tying shot off.

"We didn't squander it. We fought really hard today. Marquette we did, and we've done it before squandered leads, but not tonight," Pitino added.

It dropped the Johnnies to losers in seven of its last nine games and now has to be nearly perfect to close the regular season to make the NCAA Tournament, and that might not even be enough.

Soriano fouled out after playing 22 minutes with nine points and seven rebounds while Ejiofor, who also battled foul trouble, had seven points and three rebounds in 17 minutes.

St. John's will host Seton Hall (15-9, 8-5 Big East) at UBS Arena on Sunday, February 18 (5:00 p.m. ET, FS1).