Mike Anderson's understaffed St. Johns squad may no longer have many good chances of winning additional conferences. The Red Storm at least made sure that last place, DePaul, wasn't the only Big East team to beat it this season.
St. Johns played without the injured senior and second scorer Mustapha Heron and blocked Ian Steere's second transfer. He stormed to an early 13-point lead and scored an 80-69 win over Providence at Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday night.
After Monday's home game against Xavier, St. Johns (14-11, 3-9) will conclude his conference schedule with a formidable five-game game against nationwide rivals Seton Hall, Villanova, Creighton, Butler and Marquette.
“It feels great to win. I think we will build on this win, gain momentum and keep it going, ”said LJ Figueroa, who led St. Johns with 19 points. “The loss of Heron is obviously huge. He does a lot outside of court. Even if it just lifts off the ground, it helps us to be a great team. He will still make a big contribution and help us and recover as soon as possible to get better. "
The game was the first for St. Johns since the Queens School confirmed the post the previous day about Heron and confirmed that he "is likely to miss the rest of the 2019-20 season" with an ankle injury. The limping heron, which had initially injured its right ankle in December, had been removed from the grid in the last two games.
But the freshman and Brooklyn-born Julian Champagnie scored 14 goals, and the second Marcellus Earlington added 12 points from the bench – including two important 3-point points after Providence scratched within four points at the start of the second half – , when St. John's stopped a loss in three games and a 1-6 stretch after a 12-5 start to the season.
The New York product Alpha Diallo went to Providence (13-12, 6-6) with 19 points and 17 rebounds, with David Duke and A.J. Reeves scored 12 each. St. Johns forced the brothers to 24 sales and Providence shot only 27.3 percent from the 3-point range.
St. Johns led 40:30 in the second half for five minutes, but David Caraher was asked to argue for an obvious foul under the basket against Kalif Young and Anderson for a technical foul, giving Providence four free throws. Luwane Pipkins sunk one and Young did both before Diallo reduced St. John's lead to five and replaced a ball later.
The brothers shot a diallo runaway at 11:45 within four minutes, but Earlington responded with a 3-pointer from the left and buried another one more minute later to make a 12-4 sprint for a 63-51 Advantage with triggering 6:57.
Figueroa's 3-pointer with 4:54 left gave St. Johns the greatest lead (14), which he quickly extended with a technical free throw after the referees defeated Providence coach Ed Cooley. The brothers got no closer than six the rest of the way.
"I thought we responded well," said Anderson when asked about Heron's loss. “Even earlier in the year when Mustapha was injured, the boys had the opportunity to play. And I thought these guys played really well. I thought they were more committed and more willing to play. Many people have risen. "