Late Rally Falls Short against Creighton, 68-63

Justin Simon tallied 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists
Jan. 23, 2018

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QUEENS, N.Y. - Trailing by as many as 16 early in the second half, the St. John's men's basketball team cut the Creighton advantage to just a single possession in the closing seconds of the contest, but proved unable to completely overcome the deficit as the Bluejays escaped with a 68-63 victory at Carnesecca Arena.

Justin Simon turned in yet another complete performance for the Red Storm (10-11, 0-9), tallying team-highs with 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

Tariq Owens and Bashir Ahmed also finished in double figures for the Johnnies with 14 and 11 points, respectively.

As a team, the Red Storm forced 16 Creighton turnovers, 11 of which came in the second half. The Johnnies, on the other hand, surrendered just five turnovers on the game, marking the second outing in their last three tries with just five miscues.

St. John's made 15 of its 28 field goals in the second half, but the Bluejays (16-5, 6-3) proved even more efficient in the latter stanza, making 58 percent of their tries from the floor (11-of-19), including a 5-of-10 showing from three-point range.

The Red Storm defense kept the high-flying Creighton offense out of rhythm in the early going, holding the Bluejays without a point for the first 3:36 of the contest. The Johnnies did not have much better luck on their end; however, going nearly seven minutes without a field goal before an Ahmed three put the Johnnies ahead 6-5 with 12:55 to go in the half.

Leading 11-8 after a pair of Owens free throws with 10:12 to go, St. John's saw Creighton uncork a 10-2 run and pull ahead by five, 18-13, following a Khyri Thomas triple two and a half minutes later.



Ahead by six, 24-18, after a three ball from Shamorie Ponds with just over four minutes to play in the period, the Bluejays opened up a 12-3 run over the next two-plus minutes, taking their largest lead of the first half, 36-21, with 1:55 to go.

Down 11, 36-25, at the break, St. John's saw Creighton balloon its lead to 16, 45-29, at the first media timeout out of the second half following a pair of threes from Marcus Foster, who scored a game-high 24 points on the evening.

The Red Storm wasted no times responding, hitting three-straight shots, including triples from Marvin Clark II and Bryan Trimble Jr., to peel off an 8-0 run and pull within eight, 45-37, with 14:40 to play.

After five-straight from Creighton bumped the lead back to 13, the Johnnies fought to get within seven on seven occasions over the next nine minutes, but the Bluejays managed to counterpunch every St. John's attack.

Simon finally got the Red Storm within that number out of the game's final media timeout with 3:05 to play, placing a driving layup off glass to shave the deficit to five, 63-58.

The Johnnies got a stop on the ensuing possession, but failed to convert their next time down. Foster then sank his 10th field goal of the night on the other end, bumping the lead back to seven with 1:41 to go.

Facing a steep deficit with a dwindling clock, the Red Storm was not done yet. The Johnnies used a Simon free throw and an Ahmed layup to cut the Bluejay lead to four, 65-61, with 38 seconds remaining on the clock.

After St. John's committed three fouls to get Creighton into the bonus, Ronnie Harrell Jr. went 1-for-2 at the line before Simon sank yet another layup, cutting the Bluejay lead to three and making it a one-possession game for the first time since the 7:15 mark of the first half.

St. John's fouled on the ensuing possession, but Davion Mintz sank both his free throws to give Creighton the 68-63 lead with which it ended the game.

The Red Storm hits the road this weekend, heading to Indianapolis for a Saturday showdown with Butler at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. Tip-off is slated for 2:30 p.m. on FS1 and 570 AM WMCA.


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