St. John’s Awful Second Half Vs. No. 20 Pittsburgh Dims Chances at NCAA Tournament

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

I feel as if I start every single St. John’s article I write talking about the ups and downs of their season, and after a double-digit win against South Florida last week, what do you know? The Johnnies played one of their worst games of the season on Sunday against Pittsburgh.

The 63-47 loss doesn’t even sound as bad as it looked, but regardless of anything, this loss puts the Red Storm at 8-7 in the conference, and pretty much puts the nail in the coffin that holds their potential at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Just last week, St. John’s was in the realm of ESPN “Bracketologist” Joe Lunardi’s bubble teams, but the loss with just three games to go (two of which are against top-25 opponents) most certainly kills any aspiration that coach Steve Lavin had of making the big dance without having to win the Big East Tournament.

After trailing by just three points at the midway mark of Sunday’s showdown, St. John’s turned the ball over an uncharacteristically-high nine times in the second half, but possibly more stifling, they shot a pitiful 25.9 percent from the field in the half, looking absolutely lost on the offensive end.

“We were kind of in the desert offensively and that’s a credit to Pittsburgh in terms of their defense,” said an almost mortified Lavin after the game. Although he has preached patience all season long, the last few games seem to have taken their toll on the third-year coach, as he’s noticing his team starting to really slack. “There were things that we could have done more effectively such as being more patient and having better shot selection.”

Regardless of what shots they were taking, leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison was an abysmal 1 of 12 from the field in the loss, and even though he isn’t the most efficient scorer in the land, his poor shooting was infectious as the Johnnies only converted on 2 of 15 three-point attempts.

St. John’s has been able to find a way to win in spite of their poor shooting in the past, but giving up 17 points off of turnovers and shooting marginally better than 30-percent won’t net you many wins against ranked opponents, or guarantee you a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Lavin came into the season not expecting much out of his young team, but unless he’s able to successfully recruit a point guard for next year’s run, we may be doomed with bad offense in Queens for years to come.

Let’s hope for a brighter future.

For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth

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