SJU’s Winning Streak Stopped Cold By Providence
It was Valentine’s Day last Wednesday, Feb. 14th, and things were supposed to be all sweetness and light over at Alumni Hall at St. John’s University. After all, the Johnnies hadn’t lost a game there in just about four years to the week and Providence College would play the role of the willing opponent, right? Wrong.
Forget the fact that it was Senior Night, and Reggie Jessie’s last home game at Alumni Hall. Forget that the Johnnies are fighting for their post-season lives. This is the Big East Conference we’re talking about, and Providence, having a terrific year, wasn’t going to roll over.
The Johnnies (13–10, 7–5) certainly didn’t help their cause by coming up with a poor shooting performance in the second half (22.9 percent), converting on only four of 23 three-point shots in the game. As a result, the Friars (18–6, 9–3) beat the Red Storm 64–53 before a packed alumni hall crowd.
Things started out well enough for St. John’s. Omar Cook, the gifted freshman point guard, came out aggressively and hit some early big baskets to lead the Johnnies to a 21–14 advantage midway through the first half. Cook would end up with 16 points, (on 5-for-18 from the floor) to lead SJU in scoring. The problem was forward Anthony Glover was the only other Red Storm player to hit double figures (10), and the offensive woes really hurt St. John’s chances to win a hard-fought game. The Johnnies shot only 31.1 per cent from the floor, and when that happens, good things, don’t often follow.
Coach Mike Jarvis, trying to guide the team into post-season for the third straight year, realized that perhaps too many players were looking for Cook to pull another super game out of his hat. "There are certain guys waiting for him to perform superhuman feats," Jarvis said. Cook was magnificent in the second overtime versus the University of Miami in the win on the road on Feb. 10th. But it takes more than one player to win basketball games.
When the Red Storm has a difficult time putting the ball in the hoop, problems can arise. Providence played a good zone defense and dared St. John’s to break it by forcing players to hit from the outside. No one really could. "We don’t make jump shots, zones look really good," Jarvis said. "When you don’t make your free throws and layups, zones look even better."
The Red Storm had a lead for most of the first half until Providence’s Erron Maxey scored on a dunk with 0:27 seconds remaining to give the Friars a slim 32–31 lead which they took into the locker room at the half. Unfortunately for the Johnnies, the Friars wouldn’t give up the lead again.
Despite the cold shooting night by St. John’s, when freshman Willie Shaw drained a trey with 4:08 remaining, the Storm trailed by only six points, at 57–51. Just a couple of more three–pointers and St. John’s would be right back in it. But the baskets never came, and Providence ended the Storm’s 27-home game winning streak at Alumni hall dating back to 1997.