Kimani Lawrence, Sedee Keita
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

St. John’s struggled to find their shot and it ended up costing them in a 74-65 loss to Arizona State in the First Four.

Ricky Keeler

Well, the St. John’s Red Storm picked a bad night to have their worst game of the season on offense. In their First Four game against the Arizona State Sun Devils, St. John’s shot only 31.8 percent from the floor and turned it over 16 times in a 74-65 loss out in Dayton. This extends their NCAA Tournament winless drought to 19 years.

For the Sun Devils, they will play Buffalo in the first round of the West region on Friday in Tulsa.

Arizona State did a great job in this game of implementing their zone defense and using their size to force the Red Storm into taking outside shots. As a team, they were 8-for-30 from downtown and could not find a rhythm all night from the perimeter.

Meanwhile, the Sun Devils were clicking on offense. In an early four-minute stretch in the first half, Bobby Hurley’s team turned a 13-10 lead into 24-10 halfway into the first half. They were led by freshman point guard Luguentz Dort, who had 21 points on only 11 shots (6-for-11 from the floor).


While Dort had a strong offensive game, Arizona State showed good balance as eight of the nine players that got into the game made a shot. Down low, Zylan Cheatham was a tough matchup to stop as he had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Cheatham only made 3 of his 11 shots, but it was his defense in the post that made life difficult for St. John’s.

Every time the Red Storm tried to get back in the game in the second half, they would either turn the ball over or miss free throws at inopportune times as they were 13-for-23 from the charity stripe. This included Mustapha Heron missing three free throws early in the second half and Justin Simon missed a pair of free throws with St. John’s down seven and 2:19 left in the game.

For most of the second half, Shamorie Ponds and LJ Figueroa were trying to will the comeback. Figueroa ended up having a double-double as he had 19 points and 10 boards. As for Ponds, he took over at points in the second half, but it was too late. The junior had 25 points on 8-for-20 shooting on what might be his last game in a St. John’s uniform.

When you look at this Red Storm squad, the starting five is tough to stop when everyone is clicking on all cylinders. It did not in Dayton. Marvin Clark II had no points for the second straight game and Heron had six points while making only one of his 12 field goals. The two combined to make just one of their 17 shot attempts and they were 0-for-9 from downtown.

Now, Arizona State gave St. John’s plenty of chances to come back. In what was a sloppy basketball game for most of the night, the Sun Devils had 21 turnovers of their own. The Red Storm did get their fair share of transition points, but they just beat themselves too much on this night.

The Red Storm did accomplish a goal this year by getting to the NCAA Tournament, but it was a rough ending to the year as the team ends it losing five of their final six games. In Dayton, it was more of a what could have been for Chris Mullin and St. John’s as the season comes to a close.

I graduated from St. John's University with a degree in sports management. I previously wrote about the Johnnies at Rumble In the Garden.