St. John’s sees one get away as defense lets them down in loss to Boston College
It has been a season-long mantra from Rick Pitino.
St. Johns isnt close to good enough defensively, and its going to take time for it to improve in that critical area.
Its not happening fast enough.
The Johnnies defense let them down early and often on Sunday, leading to an ugly 86-80 loss to Boston College at Barclays Center in the NABC Brooklyn Showcase.
St. Johns couldnt guard the ball. It couldnt keep Eagles off the free-throw line.
And it dropped a rsum-denting contest to a team picked to finish 12th in the ACC after building a 10-point lead early in the second half.
We are not going to win until we get committed to defense, and this group is not, fumed Pitino, who cut off his postgame media session after five minutes to avoid saying something he would regret. Its partially our fault. We recruited offensive basketball players. Were trying to teach 23-year-olds about defense and it cost us tonight.
If you take all the offensive rebounds we allowed and the fact that they shot 56 percent, theyre almost scoring every time down the floor. Were trying to win with offense and you cant win with offense. So were disappointed very disappointed.
St. Johns (6-3) was outscored 25-14 over the final 7:39, as Boston College (8-3) shot 56.4 percent from the field, notched 16 second-chance points and attempted 25 free throws after halftime.
The Johnnies led 66-61 with 7:56 left to play, but they were overwhelmed down the stretch similar to the loss to Dayton in the Charleston Classic.
4Joel Soriano is bottled up during St. John’s loss to Boston College on Sunday. Noah K. Murray for NY PostIn five games against top-100 teams, St. Johns is allowing an average of 79.4 points and has a 2-3 record in those contests.
The defense is ranked 127th in the country in efficiency.
Pitino called the halfcourt defense abominable.
Asked if St. Johns has the athletes to be a strong defensive team, Pitino made it clear he doesnt believe it is a talent issue.
Plus, he joked, you cant make any in-season trades.
Defense is a matter of will, you got to want to play defense, the Hall of Fame coach said. Its frustrating. But thats what the first year is, its all frustrations. Thats what you get. … Its very difficult. When you have a 10-point lead, youre not supposed to lose it. Its been difficult from the summer to now with defense. Its a broken record.
4St. John’s head coach Rick Pitino reacts during a loss to Boston College on Sunday. Noah K. Murray for NY PostSt. Johns didnt make any players available after the defeat.
Joel Soriano led St. Johns with 21 points and 11 rebounds and Chris Ledlum added 16 and 11, but the backcourt duo of Jordan Dingle and Daniss Jenkins shot a combined 8-for-28 from the field.
St. Johns struggled mightily without Jenkins (10 points, eight assists), who fouled out with 2:11 remaining, outscored by 10 in the 14 minutes he wasnt on the floor.
Its like a ship without a captain when he goes out of the game, Pitino said.
Five Boston College players scored in double figures, led by Quinten Posts near triple-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
The 7-footer created problems for St. Johns from the perimeter, repeatedly finding teammates for backdoor layups.
4St. John’s guard Chris Ledlum (8) drives to the basket while being defended by Boston College forward Elijah Strong. APAfter a poor first 20 minutes, St. Johns started the second half extremely well, ripping off a 14-0 run to build the games biggest lead of 10.
Soriano was instrumental, scoring eight of those points. At one juncture, St. Johns scored eight points in a head-spinning 34 seconds.
The momentum didnt last.
After a timeout, Boston College answered with a 13-2 spurt to go ahead that coincided withsome iffy possessions in which St. Johns settled for long, contested jumpers.
The Eagles kept coming, going ahead by five after freshman Brady Dunlaps turnover led to a Prince Aligbe dunk with 10:20 left.
4oston College guard Claudell Harris Jr. (1) reacts after a three point shot against St. John’s guard Nahiem Alleyne (4) during the second half of the NABC Brooklyn Showcase, Sunday, Dec.10, 2023. Noah K. Murray-NY PostIt didnt get better, even though St. Johns did briefly reclaim the lead. It just couldnt get nearly enough stops.
Were going to continue to work at it. We let this one get away, Pitino said. Weve played defense against certain opponents and came away with nice victories. They dont absorb scouting is the biggest issue. Even underneath out-of-bounds plays. Boston College scored three buckets and we played it incorrectly.
As disappointing a loss as Ive had, not because of the score, not because of losing. Its the way were losing.
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