Sunday, February 9, 2014
Rapid Reax: St. John's 70, Creighton 65
By Kieran Darcy
Some quick thoughts on St. John's 70-65 win over No. 12 Creighton on Sunday at Madison Square Garden:
What it means: St. John's finally has a win over a ranked opponent, and is suddenly back in the NCAA tournament picture.
The Red Storm had been 0-4 against Top 25 teams, but their resume suddenly looks significantly better. After an 0-5 start in the Big East, they've won six of their past seven games. St. John's improves to 15-9 overall, 5-6 in the conference.
Creighton falls out of first place in the Big East with the loss. The Bluejays are now 19-4 overall, and 9-2 in the conference.
The turning point: Creighton jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead, but St. John's had things tied up by the midpoint of the first half. The Red Storm took their largest lead of the half, 40-33, on a pair of D'Angelo Harrison free throws with 1:27 remaining. But the Bluejays' Austin Chatman buried a 4-pointer in the final seconds to make it 40-36 at intermission.
St. John's pushed the lead back to seven early in the second half, 46-39, but that didn't last long -- Creighton scored eight points from there to retake the lead. The rest of the game was tight. Harrison hit the biggest shot of the game, a 3-pointer with 2:14 left to put St. John's back in front 65-63. Creighton's Grant Gibbs and Jahenns Manigat had good looks from beyond the arc in the final 90 seconds, but couldn't knock 'em down. Harrison put the game away at the foul line.
Star watch: Eight of the nine St. John's players who got into the game scored. Harrison finished with a team-high 19 points, and Chris Obekpa chipped in 11. This was a total team effort, at both ends.
Creighton's Doug McDermott, the second-leading scorer in the country (25.3), hit his average (25 points). But he had to work very hard to get there. And Creighton couldn't get him the ball in crunch time.
Number crunch: Creighton shot just 14-for-25 from the foul line (56 percent). That's a killer.
What's next: St. John's plays at Seton Hall on Thursday. Creighton plays at Butler on Thursday.