Resilient St. John’s holds off Providence to move into share of Big East lead
As impressive as St. Johns first three Big East wins were, everything went right.
There was very little adversity. No moment when the game really felt in the balance. No time the Johnnies trailed.
Wednesday night was different.
Wednesday night, St. Johns took a punch, staggering to the canvas after a 16-2 Providence run.
And in that moment, when the Garden didnt feel like such a home-court advantage Providence fans were letting their voices be heard the Johnnies responded with a haymaker of their own.
A 17-5 run followed, paving the way to a hard-fought 75-73 victory and 4-1 start in league play, St. Johns best since the 2000-01 season.
Three times in the run, Daniss Jenkins found teammates for open layups and nailed a 3-pointer, which pushed the lead back to 10 with 9:29 left.
3Daniss Jenkins reacts after hitting a shot during the second half of St. John’s 75-73 win over Providence. Charles Wenzelberg / New York PostWhen Providence got within seven, he sank a baby jumper.
RJ Luis, though, may have had the games biggest basket, a jumper at the top of the key with 2:39 left after Providence had gotten within four.
The Friars got all the way within one after a Devin Carter layup with 9.8 seconds to go, and after Brady Dunlap missed two free throws, Luis tracked down the offensive rebound.
He hit one or two and defended Jayden Pierres potential game-winning 3-pointer well. It failed to draw iron.
Jenkins finished with 16 points, eight assists and four rebounds, continuing his recent impressive play.
3St. John’s coach Rick Pitino Charles Wenzelberg / New York PostJoel Soriano added 16 points and seven rebounds after a slow start and Luis had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Carter led Providence with 31 points and 13 rebounds.
With the win, St. Johns (12-4, 4-1) 10th in 12 games, it joins Seton Hall atop the Big East standings. The two local rivals meet Tuesday in Newark.
Much like the win over Villanova, St. Johns started like it was shot out of a cannon.
It scored the games first 10 points and 20 of the first 25, quickly building a15-point lead just 7:02 in.
Dunlap got it going, hitting his first three shots and Jenkins hit a pair of 3-pointers.
3Brady Dunlap celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer during the first half of St. John’s win. Charles Wenzelberg / New York PostProvidence was fortunate to be down just 11 at halftime, partly due to St. Johns seven first-half turnovers.
The Friars did a strong job on Soriano, limiting him to two shot attempts in 15 minutes.
The Johnnies, however, shot 56.7 percent from the field and made 5 of 11 3-point attempts against the countrys fourth-ranked defense in terms of efficiency.
Jordan Dingle and Jenkins were particularly sharp, combining for 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting. It was 13-0 in bench points in favor of St. Johns, with nine of those from Dingle.
The second half started very differently from the first. Providence came out hot and ripped off a 16-2 run to turn what was once a 15-point St. Johns advantage into the lead.
St. Johns missed seven of its first eight shots and committed two turnovers in the opening four minutes of the stanza.
It took the lead back on a Dunlap dunk on a backdoor play and went up four when Soriano completed a three-point play with 11:36 left, part of a 13-2 run Jenkins capped with a 3-pointer.
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