St. John’s held the No. 8 Bulldogs (6-0) to 20 points below its season average and trailed by just three with one minute left in regulation, but the Bulldogs managed to escape with the victory.
“We did some good things, but we are not big on moral victories,” said St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin. “We expect to win, so the disappointment is that we didn’t finish it off and win a championship.”
Phil Greene IV matched a career-high with four 3-pointers and scored a game-high 20 points in St. John’s first setback of the season. Rysheed Jordan added 19 points and D’Angelo Harrison finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
Sir’Dominic Pointer contributed nine points and nine rebounds to help the Red Storm finish even on the boards (37-37) with the Bulldogs, despite being outsized by Gonzaga’s frontline that featured three players 6-foot-10 or taller.
St. John’s was forced to play much of the second half without its own 6-9 forward, Chris Obekpa, who picked up his fourth foul just five minutes into the second half, forcing Lavin to go with his smaller squad.
“We’ve gone small before,” said Harrision. “It wasn’t the bigs that were hurting us in the end. We had a slow first half but picked it up in the second half.
St. John’s was scheduled to host Niagra at Carnesecca Arena on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on FOX Sports 1.