St. John's Loses To Pittsburgh, 81-57 At Garden
St. John's (7-9, 1-4 Big East) faced Big East rival Pittsburgh (15-3, 3-2 Big East) at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, January 23, with the hope of ending a six-game losing streak. The game was televised locally on ESPN and broadcast on FAN 660-AM.
Unfortunately for the Johnnies, number 13-ranked Pitt was much too strong for them, in spite of the fact that Pitt came into the game without two of its starters, Senior forward Mike Cook and junior point guard Lebvance Fields who have missed the last six games with injuries. In spite of their absence and the loss of 22 points per game from the pair, Pitt handed the Storm their seventh defeat in a row, sending them to the bottom of the Big East standings. The final score was Pitt 81, SJU 57.
Sam Young of Pittsburgh was too much for the Red Storm, putting in 26 points as his team's leading scorer. This was Pitt's fourth win in the last five games.
"We were coming off a game where we didn't play well and we righted ourselves,""Young, who was 10 for 17 from the field, including 3 for 6 on 3s, said. "That was pretty big. Now we have to maintain it." Ronald Ramon added 16 points and five assists for Pitt (16-3, 4-2 Big East). Freshman DeJuan Blair had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Panthers, to go 5-2 all time against St. John's at the Garden.
Anthony Mason Jr., who missed a number of games with an injury, was a standout for the Johnnies, with no other member of the Red Storm Squad scoring in double figures. But Mason could not carry his team to victory in spite of his heroic, career-high, 28-point effort on 12-17 shooting from the floor, including three 3-pointers and 2- 3 from the free throw line.
Head Coach Norm Roberts, regarding the eight freshmen on the squad, declared: "I chose the path we are on. I chose to bring in eight freshmen. I chose to do that for our program and build a foundation."
There was little support from Mason's game-high 29 points. Justin Burrell and D.J. Kennedy each put in seven points and Malik Boothe and Sean Evans added four apiece.
St. John's trailed from the first score on a field goal by Pitt's DeJuan Blair on a pass from Keith Benjamin. St. John's never led in the game and trailed by as many as 13 at the 3:26 mark in the first half and by 11 at half time, 38- 27.
While St. John's scored the first four points to begin the second half, they could not sustain their comeback attempt, with Pitt responding with a 9-0 run of their own to lead, 47-31. The Panthers shot for 61.5 percent from the floor and won the game going away, 81-57.
When St. John's visited Louisville on Saturday, January 26, Mason duplicated his 29-point career high in a 67-57 losing effort. The Red Storm faced Georgetown on Wednesday, January 30 at the Garden, with the results coming in after the Queens Gazette went to press. St. John's will face Providence at home at Carnesecca Arena on Saturday, February 9 for a noon start. Visit the Gazette Web site, www.qgazette/com, for game results.