“Point blank, they just beat us,” said Cincinnati guard Cashmere Wright after his number-14 Bearcats were upset by St. John’s on Saturday afternoon. “Every loose ball, every rebound, they just got it and outplayed us. It seems like we just started going through the motions of the game and thinking we’d be able to win it no matter what instead of just playing.”
Wright probably felt so beat down because his 23 point performance seemed to be about the only thing Cincinnati had going for them in their lowest scoring effort in the season.
Which on the flip side, must mean the young Red Storm played a hard-nosed game. After dropping the Big east opener in an overtime battle against Villanova, St. John’s brought their toughness to Fifth Third Arena, and gave the Bearcats a dose of their own medicine.
“I said to the team, ‘Why don’t we take this opportunity today to flip it and outrebound Cincinnati so we can win?’” said St. John’s coach Steve Lavin, who’s team did win the battle of the glass, 35-34, against the second best rebounding team in the nation heading into Saturday’s affair. “And they came through…The aggressive team is the one who makes their breaks, and I thought we were able to finally get over the hump and finish a win because we were aggressive from start to finish.”
And catch a break the Johnnies did. In fact, you could say St. John’s played like a Red Storm team that would typically lose a close game, so maybe they caught several breaks. After opening the game hitting just one of their first ten field goal attempts, SirDominic Pointer and JaKarr Sampson were able to get the offense going in time for sophomore D’Angelo Harrison to do what he does best.
“My teammates believed in me, coach called it a great play, I got the switch I wanted, and I just pulled up right over him and it was a great shot,” said Harrison, reflecting on a huge jumper he nailed with 29 seconds left to give St. John’s the lead for good. “Coach could have called anyone’s number, and he called my number and I delivered.”
Despite committing an uncharacteristic 17 turnovers, St. John’s defense played a big role in their first win of the Big East season, holding Cincinnati to a miserable 31.7 percent shooting performance, including Sean Kilpatrick’s worst game of the season, as the junior guard went for a season-low 7 points on 3-for-14 shooting.
As usual, Sampson and Harrison led the way for St. John’s on the offensive end, but Phil Greene’s struggles, especially in the closing minutes of the game – St. John’s scored just five points in the last seven minutes of the game – will continue to hamper the Red Storm in close games and against some of the more talented backcourts in the Big East.
A win is a win is a win, and a road win over a ranked team is as good of a confidence boost as this inexperienced St. John’s team could’ve hoped for as they embark upon Big East play.
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