As the Connecticut and St. Johns mens basketball teams converged at center court for the tip-off prior to Tuesday nights 71-53 Red Storm loss at Madison Square Garden, the difference between the two teams was remarkable.
Standing at the center of the Worlds Most Famous Arena, David played by the shorthanded Johnnies, which featured just nine players, including four walk-ons due to suspensions and expulsion that have followed in the wake of the Pittsburgh sex scandal exchanged hand pounds and hugs with Goliath the No. 8 ranked Huskies, featuring National Player of the Year Candidates Emeka Okafor (22 points and 18 rebounds) and Ben Gordon (13 points).
With both teams starting out lethargically, the Red Storm and Huskies combined for 40 percent shooting in the first half, as the Johnnies shot just a dismal nine yes, nine percent (3-for-32) from the floor.
Leading by just four at the 10-minute mark, the deeper and more talented Huskies used a 25-6 run to take a commanding 33-16 lead at halftime, but let the lead get away during spurts in the second stanza.
Trailing 50-20, St. Johns (6-18, 1-12), wearing throw-back jerseys worn by the 1985 Final Four team, finally caught fire. Walk-on Phil Misseres breakaway dunk capped a 17-2 run and sent the crowd of 11,736 in a frenzy mode, cutting Connecticuts overwhelming 30-point lead in half.
St. Johns had a shot, but it proved to be too little, too late, as the Huskies (22-5, 10-3) reverted to their national powerhouse form, holding a comfortable lead for the remainder of the night.
We slacked off a little bit in the second half, Okafor said. When we were building the lead in the first half, we did some really good things. Overall, I think we did a decent job.
St. Johns was led by sophomore guard Daryll Hills team-high 21 points and senior forward Kyle Cuffes fifth double-double (16 points and 13 rebounds) of the season.
I was impressed, St. Johns interim head coach Kevin Clark said. I have never been involved in a game where we shot nine percent in the (first) half and still be somewhat in the game. We had some goals that we set and we achieved some of them.
With just three games remaining in this forgettable season, St. Johns faces Providence this Sunday at MSG. Tip-off is slated for noon,
Showtime named Big East Rookie of the Week: After leading the Red Storm to its first Big East win of the season on Feb. 18 against Georgetown at Madison Square Garden and losing by just one at Virginia Tech on Feb. 21, St. Johns sophomore guard Daryll Showtime Hill was named Big East Rookie of the Week, the conference announced on Monday.
The former Cardozo standout averaged 24.5 points and three assists last week, leading the Johnnies in both of its contests.
In the Storms 65-58 win over the Hoyas, Hill scored a team-high 22 points to go along with three assists and four steals.
Reach contributing writer Joseph Manniello by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2004 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.