"You gotta go in there and attack him, you gotta attack the rim," senior forward Aaron Spears said.The Red Storm did all night, but could never score on a consistent basis in a 68-59 loss to the 24th-ranked Huskies Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Thabeet (12 points, 10 rebounds and 7 blocks) altered plenty of shots, though he wasn't the only reason the Johnnies couldn't put the ball in the basket."We got the ball in the right position," Roberts said. "We just didn't make shots."Nope. A 33 percent field-goal percentage attests to that, and a winnable game against a ranked team slipped away from the Johnnies. They did everything coach Norm Roberts expects them to do. They played hard, they were staunch defensively down the stretch and fought for 21 offensive rebounds - 17 of them in the second half. The credo all along for Roberts, in his third year, was to do all those things - rebound, defend, play hard. But if you can't make baskets when you need to, all that goes for naught.Spears scored a season-high 11 points, but it just wasn't enough. St. John's (10-7, 1-3 Big East) got no perimeter game, shooting 28 percent from three, and senior Lamont Hamilton, the team's leading scorer, was limited to 9 points, none of them in the first half. Avery Patterson and Anthony Mason each had 10 points on a combined 9-of-27 shooting.For the first 5:23 of the game, the Johnnies were more worried about not getting shut out than winning. The Huskies (13-3, 2-2) started off on a 12-0 run until Patterson's three with 14:37 left before halftime."It was important for us to get off to a good start," Roberts said.It didn't happen Saturday and hasn't happened since Big East games began for St. John's. The last four contests, the Red Storm has trailed early by double digits and in all but one - a win against DePaul on Jan. 3 - the team hasn't recovered."I think we get tight and start pressing and we start taking some quick shots," Roberts said.The only positive is that the Johnnies did come to play in the second half - after the obligatory funk right after halftime. That wasn't the reason Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun left the bench with about 11 minutes left in the game before returning with only seconds remaining. He owed that to an upset stomach."I don't know if it was the fish I ate or the officiating," the coach quipped afterward.The UConn lead got up to 17 points twice, the last one after a huge three-pointer by Stanley Robinson (13 points, 12 rebounds) with 4:38 left. A.J. Price led the Huskies with 15 points. St. John's got the lead down to seven twice, but just couldn't get over the hump. If its start wasn't as ugly, maybe the Red Storm would have had a chance down the stretch to tie or take a lead."We did fight and scratch there," Roberts said. "We just didn't put the ball in the basket."Reach reporter Marc Raimondi by e-mail at news@times
©2007 Community News Group
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