basketball Edit

Red Storm offense disappears vs. MSU

Marcus LoVett
Marcus LoVett (AP)

Marcus LoVett continued his stellar debut season for the Red Storm, but the redshirt freshman didn’t get much help Wednesday evening in the Bahamas as the team dropped another chance at a marquee early-season win.

For the second time in as many games, St. John’s (2-2) faced off a Big Ten squad and met the same result: a hard-fought battle away from New York that proved to be too much too soon for the Red Storm. Despite leading for much of the first half, the Johnnies dropped a 73-62 contest vs. No. 24 Michigan State (3-2).

LoVett scored a team-high 20 points on 18 shots. It was a rough shooting night for the team overall as they finished the game shooting 31 percent from the field — a bad formula for winning basketball as noted by Chris Mullin.

“We got enough looks but we didn't knock any down,” Mullin said. “When you shoot 30 percent, you're not going to win a game."

"We tried to concentrate on moving the ball to start and getting the ball inside. We got good looks, but we didn't make them. You have to keep going to that and hope these guys will come through. We had eight assists and that's not really the kind of game I want to play. We tried everything. We tried inside-outside; we tried pick-and-roll.”

It was that kind of night for St. John’s. The squad’s three leading scorers, LoVett (6 of 18), Shamorie Ponds (4 of 12), and Bashir Ahmed (4 of 13), couldn’t find easy shots all game and that compounded things when the interior players weren’t able to take advantage of low-post position for buckets.

"For the whole game, it was our offense,” Mullin said. “I thought our defense was pretty solid. We got killed on the boards, but statistically, when you shoot 30 percent there are a lot of defensive boards. They had 14 offensive rebounds which is probably more key for us.”

Michigan State, a similarly young team, punished St. John’s in the paint, outscoring the Red Storm 28:14 in the painted area. A pair of freshmen, Nick Ward and Miles Bridges, had arguably their best games for Head Coach Tom Izzo.

Ward, a top-50 recruit from Ohio, worked well in the paint with an arsenal of post moves that St. John’s struggled to contain on his way to a nine-point, 10-rebound outing in just 12 minutes. That was a surprise.

What wasn’t a surprise? Miles Bridges. The five-star recruit out of Flint, Mich., was unstoppable when the ball touched his hand — and he made sure that happened frequently, grabbing 15 rebounds. Bridges finished with 22 points on 9 of 18 (3 of 5 3-PT FG) plus three assists.

"He's an inside-outside threat. He can play all around the court, he's good in the post and he can play in transition. I thought we did a pretty good job on him overall [even though] he ended up with big numbers. He's a heck of a player."

As part of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, St. John’s will have to put this one behind them quickly as another game approaches Thursday and a third the following day. Overcoming fatigue will be a tall task for this young team, but a necessary one if they hope to gain some momentum as the non-conference schedule picks up with more games on less rest and much stiffer competition.

“When you miss shots, it's deflating,” Mullin said. “We just have to come back tomorrow and get better."