The game was there for St. John’s to win. Early. Late. In overtime.
The Red Storm never could grab it. They never did enough to take command. They blew an early 16-point lead. They failed to execute with a lead in the final seconds. They were outplayed in overtime.
So, that six-game winning streak that drew national attention ended in disappointing fashion. St. John’s lost for the seventh straight time at Butler, this one 76-73 in overtime, as almost everyone in red struggled at some point.
Posh Alexander had his worst game in weeks, badly outplayed by Butler’s Aaron Thompson. Julian Champagnie scored 19 points, but didn’t get nearly enough touches. The Johnnies went ice-cold from 3-point range, going 4-for-17. Their defense went south, allowing Thompson and Butler to dominate inside.
“They were driving [on] all of our guys. We didn’t do a good job of keeping the ball out of the paint,” Red Storm coach Mike Anderson said. “Defense wasn’t up to the standards that we’ve been playing.”
Despite all that, St. John’s was in position late in regulation to steal the game. Dylan Addae-Wusu’s drive with 29.2 seconds left gave the Red Storm a two-point lead, and after Bo Hodges’ driving shot rolled off the rim for the Bulldogs, the Johnnies were in great shape. But a turnover on the inbound, when Rasheem Dunn couldn’t handle a low pass from Addae-Wusu, allowed Thompson, who finished with 17 points and 10 assists, to pull Butler even with 2.3 seconds left and force overtime.
“We started off the game with a turnover and we finished regulation with a turnover, which came back to haunt us,” Anderson said. “We had another timeout if we needed it. Just a miscue, that’s all.”
In the extra session, St. John’s (13-8, 7-7 Big East) led by one after a Champagnie three-point play with 2:25 left, but Butler (7-10, 6-8) scored the final four points of the extra session.
Dunn and Marcellus Earlington both missed the front end of one-and-ones before Champagnie and Alexander missed desperation heaves in the final seconds.
Alexander’s attempt failed to draw iron, capping a game in which the Big East’s frontrunner for Freshman of the Year was held to single digits (eight points) and without an assist for the first time this year. He also wasn’t his usual pesky self on the defensive end due to foul trouble, and didn’t have a steal after halftime.
Now St. John’s will have a week to regroup before hosting Xavier next Tuesday, a must-have game to improve its NCAA Tournament resume. The winning streak put the Red Storm in position to be a part of March Madness. Now they have to finish well at home (four of their last five scheduled conference games are in Queens) and forget about Tuesday night’s dismal setback.
“They’re hurting right now, but they’ll learn from it,” Anderson said. “One game doesn’t make a season; one game doesn’t kill your season. We know we can play better.”