SAN FRANCISCO - Freshman JaKarr Sampson led all scorers with a career-high 22 points, but St. John's shot just 39.7 percent (25-of-63) from the floor and saw its four-game winning streak snapped with an 81-65 loss to San Francisco at War Memorial Gym.
D'Angelo Harrison added 14 points to help pace St. John's (6-3), which trailed by just three points, 59-56, with 7:41 to play. Amir Garrett had seven points and nine rebounds, while Chris Obekpa had nine rebounds to go with three blocks and two points. The Red Storm finished +3 on the boards, 37-34, against a USF squad that entered the contest averaging a +11.4 margin on the glass.
De'End Parker scored 21 points to lead four players in double-figures for San Francisco (5-1), which has won five-straight. Cody Doolin added 18 points, while Mark Tollefsen chipped in with 11 and Tim Derksen added 10. The Dons shot 50.0 percent (27-of-54) from the floor, including a 60.0 percent clip (9-of-15) from long range.
"We were very uneven on both ends of the floor, and showed our youth with an immature performance," said head coach Steve Lavin. "USF did some things very well in terms of their maturity and execution. We gave them far too many angles off dribble penetration and didn't stay tied to their shooters. We had flashes of good play in both halves, but could not sustain a level necessary to close the gap."
St. John's trailed by just three at halftime, but a Parker trey and a pair of layups quickly gave the Dons a 45-35 advantage with 17:46 to play. Another Parker 3-pointer and a Tao Xu layup gave the Dons a 15-point lead, but the Red Storm answered with a 10-0 run to pull to within five points, 54-49, at the 12:22 mark. St. John's trailed by just three points with 7:41 remaining, but Parker was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws to open up a 13-4 USF run.
The Dons led by as many as nine at the 3:23 mark of the first half, but St. John's promptly pulled to within one thanks to an 8-0 run and trailed just 38-35 at the break.
STJ makes its debut at the newly-renovated "World's Most Famous Arena" on Saturday, Dec. 8, as the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival again takes the form of a one-day doubleheader featuring local squads. St. John's and Fordham tip things off at 7 p.m., followed by the 9:30 p.m. nightcap pitting Rutgers against Iona.