Johnnies struggle in Big East play — again 1

Julian Champagnie scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds last Sunday but St. John’s lost to Georgetown in overtime.

“I told our guys that I will take the blame for that one there,” Red Storm head coach Mike Anderson said after last Sunday’s 97-94 overtime loss at Georgetown. “I didn’t get the job done. The guys played their hearts out, the tempo of the game was the way we wanted it to go, and we had a lot of miscues going down the stretch.”

It was a tough loss for St. John’s, who led by seven with 2:32 remaining only to squander the lead, tie the game at the buzzer to send it to overtime and then let a lead slip away again.

“I just didn’t put them in the right position at the right time,” Anderson said.

Pressure defense caused 17 Hoya turnovers but the sloppy Red Storm turned the ball over 15 times.

Not all of it was Anderson’s fault. There were critical missed free throws. Posh Alexander, who had 16 points and six assists, committed a foul in the backcourt in the final minutes which began the Hoyas comeback. And St. John’s missed nine of 13 three-point attempts.

The Red Storm defense was disappointing as Georgetown shot 54 percent from the field and 11 for 23 from three-point range.

“I think our guys just have to take a little more pride in it, that is what has to take place,” Anderson said.

There were some bright spots in defeat. Former junior college All-American Isaih Moore scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Julian Champagnie tallied 13 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double in six games. Greg Williams Jr. scored 13 points, including a lay-up at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

But St. John’s, who lost last Friday to Seton Hall, is 0-2 to start Big East play for the third time in four seasons.

The Red Storm have had a winning record in conference play only three times in the last 18 seasons. The 2013-14 team started 0-5 before finishing 10-8 and the 2014-15 squad was 0-3 before getting hot and also finishing 10-8.

The familiar pattern seems to continue. St. John’s plays well against nonconference opponents and then struggles facing the upgrade in competition.

“It definitely hurt,” Williams Jr. said of losing to Georgetown after being in position to win. “That is a big stain on us so the only thing that we can do is bounce back and move forward while we learn from our mistakes.”

To add to the frustration of the Georgetown loss, the Hoyas are one of only two teams predicted to finish below St. John’s in the conference.

Anderson said the loss will not define the team and that they will continue to evolve as the season progresses.

“We’ve just got to learn how to finish, that’s all,” he said. “It’s not defining time, it’s not panic time, it’s two games into league play and just take both of them on the road.”

The Big East conference released the second portion of men’s basketball schedules Monday, which involves two separate week-long breaks for makeups of postponed games. All St. John’s home games will be held at Carnesecca Arena without fans. The Johnnies close the season at home against Providence and Seton Hall.

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