St. John's Cures Struggling Duke; Blue Devils Win, 76-69 • Latino Sports


St. John's Cures Struggling Duke; Blue Devils Win, 76-69


NEW YORK – The St. John Red Storm might have been encouraged and may have even been extra confident when they faced the mighty Duke Blue Devils at Madison Square Garden Thursday night.

Forget about the fact that boys from Queens had lost their last five games against the boys from Tobacco Road. Forget about the fact it’s been almost six years since they knocked off Duke. St. John’s wanted to take advantage of a Blue Devil team whose confidence has been shaken lately. Last week, for the first time in 24 years, they lose to Boston College. That came after getting trounced by ACC rival North Carolina on their home floor. So was it a case of St. John’s kicking a team when they were down or playing a Duke team feeling like a wounded animal? Unfortunately for the Red Storm it was the latter.

St. John’s guard Paris Horne nailed a 3-pointer with 15:10 left in the first half giving his team a four-point lead at 11-7. It would be their biggest lead of the game. Duke, led by guard Gerald Henderson (19 pts, 11-of-13 free throws) then outscored the Johnnies 12-2, and never looked back. By halftime, aided by 14 St. John turnovers (five from guard Malik Boothe), Duke took an 11-point lead to the locker room.

Don’t let the final score (76-69) fool you. For the majority of the second half, Duke enjoyed a double-digit lead. On four different occasions, Duke would lead by 15 and 16 points, respectfully. It was only because St. John’s stopped turning over the ball (four TOs in the second half) and began pushing the ball, did they close the gap. On more than three occasions, they failed to finish plays under the basket. Those misses loomed very large when they closed the gap to as little as five points with :15 seconds left. Red Storm’s head coach Norm Roberts was frustrated but complimented the guys on their hard work. “It was difficult,” said Roberts, who has been under fire. “But I know our guys went hard to the basket.”

St. John’s record fell overall to 12-14 while their record in the Big East is 3-10. Another year they are not part of the Big East Tournament. The NIT doesn’t look good either. Their last five games (Seton Hall, Syracuse, De Paul, Georgetown and Notre Dame) are all against Big East opponents. A tall order for a team as young as they are.  Duke, on the other hand has time to right their ship. For them, St. John’s was just what the doctor ordered.   

About Bobby Ciafardini