St. John’s Stunned By Providence; Seton Hall Survives Creighton

(The tip-off of Seton Hall and Creighton – Photo by Jason Schott)

Saturday was a pivotal day for the Big East locals, as St. John’s was dominated down the stretch in a 70-86 loss to Providence at Madison Square Garden in the afternoon, while Seton Hall survived a late late charge from Creighton to pull out a 63-58 victory at the Prudential Center.

The results leave both teams with 5-6 records in Big East Conference play, two of five teams tied for third place, along with Georgetown, DePaul, and Butler. Villanova (10-1) and Marquette (9-2) are secured in the top two spots.

Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley said of how tight the Big East is this season, “I mean, this year’s been very different for us as a team and in our league. You know, you have two teams that are kind of running away with it a little bit, so every game is so, so important, especially now, and everybody says that, but it’s not a cliche. A win could either put you in third or fourth or fifth place. A loss could put you in last place, with all of us jumbled together, all playing each other. We’re a very, very young league right now, very young league, and we’re all going through our ups and downs, so as we get older, the league will be that much more dominant. Right now, the Big 10 has a lot of old players. The Big East lost 19 of its top 30 players, so we have to be patient with our league. Overall, what’s going to make this Big East year so much fun is the Big East Tournament because anybody can come in here – anybody can come in here and win the thing. It doesn’t matter who’s first, who’s tenth. It’s as balanced a league as we’ve had in some time.”

Providence 70, St. John’s 56:

This game was a pretty even battle early, as Providence led 31-29 at halftime, and they held a 46-45 lead halfway through the second half.

That was when they took over, as they went on a 7-0 run capped by a Nate Watson layup at the 8:02 mark, and he drained a pair of free throws to extend that to an 11-3 run that made it 57-48.

The Friars just kept building on that, and a three-pointer from Isaiah Jackson just before the shot clock expired at the 2:59 mark gave them a 12-point edge, 66-54, and basically put the game away.

Providence closed the game on an elongated 24-11 run, and they won this game on the boards, as they racked up 43 rebounds (including 16 on the offensive end) to just 23 for St. John’s.

“Coming in the first thing that was on the board today was physicality,” St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin said. “Meet their physicality – they are going to run the flex and try to post up, get us in the paint and then team rebounding. We weren’t horrible in the post, we weren’t horrible defensively, but when you get a stop and you don’t get the ball back it just demoralizes your offense and defense. So they got 16 of those (referring to offensive rebounds) and some of them were actually after some good defensive possessions.”

Mullin is correct in his assessment, as his team held Providence to 39.6 shooting (21-53) from the field, slightly better than his team, who shot 37 percent (20-54) from the field, but their offensive rebounds gave them so many more second chances.

St. John’s forward Marvin Clark II said, “They rebounded the heck out of the ball on the offensive end, and that’s where we went wrong. Those offensive rebounds that we should have taken away, that leads to transition buckets, leads to energy to the crowd and leads to I think a win in our favor. I tip my hat off to them. I think they did a great job coming in here and making the game physical scoring it down, crashing the glass, and came in here and stole the win.”

St. John’s was without Mustapha Heron, who was out with a bruised left knee that he suffered after it got clipped in their win at Marquette Tuesday. Heron is averaging 15.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, so their offense was missing a big weapon.

Mullin said of missing Heron, “A game like this where they play a lot of zone, having another shooter obviously is going to be a big factor, but again if he was out there, we gave up 16 offensive rebounds, then they were going to control that pace. The goal was to match their physicality, when we do get some stops, get some clean rebounds and get out in the open floor to get some flow to the game. Look, he’s one of our best players so of course he would have had an impact.”

Providence was led by Nate Watson, who had 18 points on 5-9 from the field, and 8-10 on free throws, with 5 rebounds. Isaiah Jackson had 12 points (2-5 FG, 2-5 three-pointers, 6-8 free throws), with 7 rebounds and 3 assists. David Duke had 11 points (4-5 FG, 1-1 threes), 3 rebounds, and an assist. Alpha Diallo had a double-double with 10 points (3-12 FG) and 15 rebounds, including 5 on the offensive end.

St. John’s was led by Shamorie Ponds, who had 20 points, but was held to 7-17 from the field and 0-2 on three-pointers, with 6 rebounds and 3 assists. LJ Figueroa had 14 points on 5-10 from the field, including a three-pointer, with 2 rebounds, a steal, and a block.

Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley with Alpha Diallo, Isaiah Jackson, and Nate Watson. Photo by Jason Schott.

Seton Hall 63, Creighton 58:

Like the St. John’s game, this one was even early on, with an identical 31-29 halftime score, advantage Seton Hall.

Seton Hall opened the second half on a 10-0 run, taking a 41-29 lead on a Michae Nzei layup at the 15:20 mark.

Creighton responded with a 10-0 run, as Martin Krampelj had 7 points in the stretch, after he had 14 in the first half.

The Blue Jays would extend that to a 25-7 run capped by a Ty-Shon Alexander jumper layup that made it 54-48 with 4:35 remaining.

That was when Seton Hall’s leader Myled Powell took over, as he scored 13 of their final 15 points down the stretch, sparking a 15-4 run to come out with the victory.

Seton Hall was led by Powell, who had 22 points, including the 13 in the final three minutes and 38 seconds, and a perfect 10-10 at the free throw line, which made up for a tough shooting night (5-14 overall and 2-9 on three-pointers. He also had 7 rebounds, 4 steals, an assist, and a block.

“Myles is Myles,” point guard Quincy McKnight said. “Mules has been Myles the whole season for us. I trust him with the ball down the stretch. When we need a bucket, you know Myles is going to get us one, either a foul or a bucket.”

McKnight also had a solid game, with 14 points (5-14 FG), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal.

Seton Hall also got contributions from Myles Cale, who had 8 points (3-7 FG, 2-4 threes), 7 rebounds, and a steal; and Sandro Mamukelashvili, who had 6 points (2-7 FG, 1-4 threes), 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal.

Creighton was led by Martin Krampelj, who had 25 points on 9-19 shooting, including 3-6 from behind the arc, with 11 rebounds for a double-double, and 3 steals. Ty-Shon Alexander had 11 points (3-14 FG, 3-8 threes), 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block.

Seton Hall Coach Kevin Willard made a very important call with his team ahead by three, 61-58, with 7.8 seconds left. He elected to foul Davion Mintz (1 point, 0-11 FG, 5 assists, 3 rebounds) instead of letting them get off a three-pointer.

Since it was Seton Hall’s ninth foul, it meant that Mintz was awarded a 1-and-1, and he missed the first free throw, giving the Pirates the ball back and Powell swooped in for the rebound. Powell drained a pair of free throws to seal the victory.

Willard said of why he made the call to foul, “The only reason I did it, and I usually don’t, there’s two big factors: One, he (Creighton head coach Greg McDermott) is a really good coach at end-of-game situations and they have enough shooters on the floor, and two, I was worried that if we did go to overtime with our foul trouble, Myles Powell having four, Q (McKnight) having four, more than likely, one of them’s going to pick up their fifth and foul out, and I didn’t want to get in that situation where we fought back, we came back, but now all of a sudden,we go to overtime and they get a foul, so those were the two biggest factors. If Myles didn’t have fouls and Q didn’t have fouls, I probably wouldn’t have fouled.”

On Powell’s domination down the stretch, Willard said, “I’m trying to get him, a little bit, to have that intensity and that sense of urgency from the start, and I think it’s tough because he plays so darn hard and he gives it his all that I think he does, at times, kind of just, I wouldn’t want to say coasts offensively, but I do think at times, he kind of takes a rest. And when he plays with that sense of urgency and that little fire that he’s got going towards the end of games, he’s just unstoppable. But it’s hard to ask him to do that for 40 minutes.”

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