St. John’s was surrounded by a small disaster Tuesday night.
The Red Storm were without starting point guard Posh Alexander, out with what school officials called a “strain on the lower leg”, but still played the first 30 minutes like wearing “St. John’s” across the chest, giving them the right to a win against St . Francis Brooklyn. After almost everything. The storm’s fight-or-flight response finally got underway with Julian Champagnie taking the lead.
Juniorforwarden bar St. John’s through a 21-6 final run with 13 of his 23 points as Storm’s final kick led it to a 76-70 non-conference victory over the undefeated Terriers before 3,415 at the Carnesecca Arena.
Ball handling would be a problem without Alexander and Rafael Pinzon, the novice point guard from LuHi who missed another game in a row with an injured left ring finger. But the Storm’s defense along the perimeter was very poor in the first half, and its sloppy rebounds allowed St. Francis to pick up points on offensive rebounds.
St. Francis drove early to a 19-6 lead and led it all the way to a 40-38 lead at the break. At that time, a team with an average of 6.7 threes per. match 11 and 15 points as a result of offensive rebounds.
Then it went in to get to the free throw line and build the margin back to 10 points and was still up 64-55 with 10 minutes left.
“We did not play defense that we are capable of,” Storm coach Mike Anderson said. “We did not play with the gravel we have to play with. We did not play with the toughness we need. I am happy for a win, but we have work to do.”
“Ensuring we have a better first half will be a focal point – that we come in with energy and rebound and defense,” Champagnie said. “Even though there are 40 minutes in a match, it will be harder against better teams.”
Dylan Addae-Wusu started and was the primary ball dealer for Storm (4-1). In his first 12 minutes on the floor, St. Francis St. John’s with 17 points. But he was just as good in the final 10 minutes as he was bad in the beginning with three steals, three assists and three defensive rebounds.
Champagnie scored on a turnaround jumper to start the comeback. He thumped an outlet from Addae-Wusu with 7:27 left to pull St. John’s within one and converted an Addae-Wusu theft into a layup for the game’s final lead change. Another Addae-Wusu theft led Champagnie to make two penalty throws with 3:58 left to a 73-66 lead.
Champagnie also had six rebounds and five assists, Montez Mathis had 20 points and played excellent defense down the stretch, and Addae-Wusu had 10 points, seven rounds, four assists and four steals. Tedrick Wilcox Jr. and Larry Moreno had 19 points and 15 points, respectively, and together made nine three-pointers for the Terriers.
St. John’s has a weekend game against NJIT before meeting Kansas next week.
Alexander was asked to come back for the next match and replied “I take it day by day, but it’s not too serious – I want to be good.”
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