March 18, 2014
QUEENS, N.Y. (AP) - For one last time in the 2013-14 season, the St. John's Red Storm showed how tantalizingly talented of a team it is. The problem was, it was too late.
A 24-6 Red Storm run spanning six-and-a-half minutes in the second half cut a 26-point deficit to eight. A microcosm of its season, St. John's came up just short after the furious rally and fell, 89-78, in its NIT First Round game.
"I thought Robert Morris came out and beat us to the punch in every phase of the game. It wasn't until the 6:30 mark that we began to play with the necessary aggressiveness and purpose needed to close the gap. Tonight was disappointing because we didn't bring forth the effort or purposeful play that would've allowed us to be competitive," said St. John's head coach Steve Lavin.
St. John's ended its season with a 21-13 record, winning 11 of its final 16 games, going 7-2 in the second half of league play and finishing tied for third in the BIG EAST after burying itself with an 0-5 conference start.
Junior Jamal Branch's career-best 22 points led the Red Storm, which placed only three in double-figures. Branch drilled a career-high four 3-pointers with three coming during the game's final 46 seconds. Sophomore Max Hooper, whose career-best 18 points came via a career-high 6-of-12 effort from distance that tied as the seventh-best 3-point performance in school history, helped set the table for a single-game St. John's team record from beyond the arc (16-for-37).
Sophomore JaKarr Sampson, limited by two first-half fouls, scored 11 points with five boards and three assists. Senior Orlando Sanchez scored eight with eight boards. Junior D'Angelo Harrison scored nine and finished his junior season 10th on the St. John's all-time scoring list with 1,601 points.
Karvel Anderson had 38 points and Lucky Jones added 25 for Robert Morris, which improved to 22-13 and will play Belmont in the second round.
The Colonials never trailed in the first-ever matchup between the Northeast Conference and BIG EAST Conference programs. Robert Morris led by as much as 25 in the first half and had a 49-27 advantage at halftime. Robert Morris' lead grew to as much as 26 points in the second half, and the Colonials needed every bit of the advantage as the Red Storm used its press to author the run that energized Carnesecca Arena.
The Colonials were able to neutralize St. John's by turning the game into a half court affair. Robert Morris shot 48.2 percent from the field, while limiting the Red Storm to 37.2 shooting.
Both teams were shorthanded. Robert Morris lost junior forward David Appolon in the first half with a foot injury. He sat on the bench in the second half with his foot wrapped and with crutches.
St. John's played without freshman guard Rysheed Jordan, who was diagnosed with tonsillitis two hours before the game. Jordan averaged 9.7 points, 3.0 assists per game and 1.2 steals in 29 games this season.