2001-03-14 / Sports

Red Storm Falls To Seton Hall 78-66 In Big East Tournament Clash

by richard kagan

Photo courtesy St. John’s U. Media Guide Anthony Glover for the most part was the St. John’s offense, scoring 24 pointsPhoto courtesy St. John’s U. Media Guide Anthony Glover for the most part was the St. John’s offense, scoring 24 points

There was an ominous note in the first minute of last Wednesday’s First Round matchup between St. John’s and Seton Hall at the Big East tournament. Seton Hall’s Samuel Dalembert, the 6 foot 11 inch, 245-pound center, swatted away a Kyle Cuffe shot that St. John’s thought should have been goal-tending.

The call wasn’t made and Dalembert went on to emphatically block two more shots in the opening minutes and send a clear signal that Seton hall would be a tough out in the Tournament.

The Storm (14–15, 8–8) was fighting to prolong its season and get a bid to the National Invitation Tournament, but needed at least one win in the tournament to have a chance. One loss and the season would be over. The Red Storm fought hard, but ran up against an inspired effort from Seton Hall and fell to the Pirates, 78–66, at Madison Square Garden.

It was a strange game. The Pirates committed 26 turnovers, one short of a Big East Tournament record. But they blocked 12 Red Storm shots, (Dalembert seven, Eddie Griffin five) and altered many more. The Red Storm shot an anemic 31.5 per cent from the floor, not good enough to win in a Big East Tournament game. Forward Anthony Glover for the most part was the St. John’s offense, scoring 24 points on 10-for-23 shooting and three free throws. Freshman guard Omar Cook had 14 points for the Red Storm cause.

The old bugaboo, poor free-throw shooting, showed up again for St. John’s. The Red Storm made 17 of 34 attempts for 50 per cent. The Storm also struggled at the line in the recent over-time loss to Syracuse.

Seton Hall (15-13, 5-11) has had a roller-coaster season. Once ranked within the top 10 nationally, the Hall came close to not even being able to compete in last week’s Tournament. But a last second shot beat the University of Connecticut, and Seton Hall had new life.

Dalembert and Griffin, the Pirate version of the twin towers, definitely had an impact in the game. Dalembert, a sophomore, had a powerful game with 10 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots. Mike Jarvis, coach of the Red Storm, thought Seton Hall’s ability to block shots was a big key to its win. "It affected the game tremendously," Jarvis said. "I felt that the very first shot was a goal-tend. I think how the first couple of shots are called determines the rest of the game."

St. John’s started out ready to play. Even with the initial blocked shots, the Red Storm had a lead 13–9 close to the midpoint of the first half. But the Pirates’ guard, Ty Shine was just heating up and would lead Seton Hall with 22 points coming off the bench. Darius Lane, always dangerous from the outside, had his game working as well, scoring 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

The Storm put out the effort, even out-rebounding Seton Hall in the first half 27 to 26. But the Pirates made their shots count. Seton Hall had a 34–22 lead toward the end of the first half and threatened to blow the game wide open, but SJU went on a 9–2 run to close the gap to trail 36–31 at the half.

St. John’s started out fairly strong in the opening minutes of the second half, too. Glover kept SJU in the game with some strong moves to the hoop and brought the Johnnies to within a basket at 40–38. But Seton Hall would not be denied. Lane made a nice inside move to the basket for two points and soon the Pirates were back up, 46–38. Shine’s trey put the hall up 56–45 near the 13:00 mark and it seemed to sap some of the Storm’s energy. One team would be advancing for another game and that team would be Seton Hall.

After the game, St. John’s Cook faced the media and said, "We’re not happy our season is over. We just wanted to go farther than this." But Seton Hall had a team effort just when it really mattered. And, Dalembert and Griffin were outstanding on defense for the Pirates.

Jarvis, in his third year at the helm of the Red Storm, acknowledged the team’s hard work throughout the season. He expressed hope that this season would be a building block for a strong season next year. "Unfortunately, we’re not ready yet," Jarvis said. "But we’re going to be."

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