QUEENS, N.Y. – Despite a career night from sophomore forward Sean Evans, an eight-point halftime lead and a plus-23 rebounding advantage for the game, the St. John's men's basketball team (16-18) fell in its College Basketball Invitational opener on Wednesday night, 75-69.
The Red Storm was hampered by 22 turnovers and shot 26.7 percent from the field in the second half in the CBI First Round loss, despite a career-best 25 points and 11 rebounds that marked Evans' ninth double-double of the season.
Second-year swingman D.J. Kennedy notched a 17-point, 12-rebound double-double – the seventh of his career – but it was not enough for the Red Storm, despite opening the game on a 19-5 run. Evans helped stake St. John's to the 14-point lead, which would be the Red Storm's largest of the contest, during the first seven minutes of the first half. Richmond drew to within six twice in the period, but St. John's took a 41-33 lead into the locker room after sophomore point guard Malik Boothe (six assists) hit a runner in the lane to beat the halftime buzzer. The Red Storm made 62.1 percent of its first-half field goals (18-fo-29), with Evans going 9-for-9 with 19 points, having already tied his career-high.
Undaunted and feeding off the Robins Center crowd of 2,171, Richmond (19-15) roared into the second half, scoring 12 of the first 16 points and tying the contest at 45-45 with 15:09 to play. After what amounted to a 21-6 Spider run over the second half's first nine minutes, Richmond completed its comeback and found itself with a seven-point lead at 54-47 with 11:12 to play. Richmond guard David Gonzalvez scored 14 of his game-best 27 points in the second stanza, helping the Spiders to crawl back into the game and take a lead it would not relinquish.
Keyed by Kennedy's six-point flurry over the next four minutes, the Red Storm made a final run at the Spiders. Evans stuck a putback layup and a Rob Thomas floater tied the game at 61-61 with 6:06 to play. But the Storm would be outscored 14-8 the rest of the way and fall by the final six-point margin.
St. John's finished the game with 20 offensive rebounds, it's second-best total of the season, and scored 21 second-chance points to the Spiders' four. The Red Storm outrebounded Richmond 48-25 and shot 44.1 percent for the game vs. the Spiders' 43.4 percent. But the Spiders' 27 points off turnovers proved to be the difference, earning Richmond a CBI Second Round home game on Monday against the College of Charleston, which downed Troy 93-91 in the other CBI East Region First Round game on Wednesday.
For the Red Storm, Justin Burrell scored nine points with nine boards and Paris Horne chipped in with nine points as well in the losing effort.
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