Free Throw Woes Sink St. John’s in Loss to Villanova

After a 4-of-22 shooting stretch by St. John’s to end the first half that gave Villanova a five-point lead at the break, D’Angelo Harrison’s three-pointer with 16:02 to play turned out to be the Red Storm’s biggest turning point, coming out of the gate in the second half.

As the three went down in transition, Harrison flashed a move made famous by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, acting as if he were ripping his shirt open to reveal a Superman costume below.

But despite a strong shooting performance from the floor in the final period, the free throw line proved to be the Red Storm’s Kryptonite on Saturday afternoon.

St. John’s shot 14-of-25 from the line, including 3-of-7 in overtime, and fell to Villanova at Madison Square Garden, 79-76.

“We left the game at the free throw line. It’s that simple.” Mike Dunlap “Rebounding is important, but it still comes down to free throws. Those are easy buckets.”

“I don’t think we ran out of gas, I thought we played tentative,” said St. John’s freshman guard D’Angelo Harrison, who tallied a career-high 28 points before fouling out in overtime. “You can’t do that against a good team like Villanova.”

Maalik Wayns continued his scoring spree in the Big East, pouring in his own 28 points, giving him an average of 31 points per game in his last three contests.

Shooting Percentage Dictates Offense

After two quick D’Angelo Harrison threes and a pro-looking spin-and-slam from Moe Harkless to begin the game, the Red Storm went cold, just 4-of-22 to finish the half.

It seems that when St. John’s applies their athleticism and plays aggressively on the offensive end, the shots start falling around the basket. When they are not, performances prevail like the 4-of-22 stint that ended the half.

Rebounding Still a Problem

Against Villanova bigs like Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston, who combined for 25 rebounds on Saturday afternoon, St. John’s continued to struggle to close out possessions, allowing the Wildcats to thrive on second-chance points.

To compensate, St. John’s was able to force 23 Villanova turnovers, but gave the ball away 21 times themselves.
There doesn’t seem to be an immediate fix for St. John’s rebounding woes, as much of it can be credited to their inherent lack of size, but being in better control of the basketball would help to heal the 21 turnover performance this afternoon.

Positive Notes

Amir Garrett continues to develop. Only about a month into his St. John’s career, the 6-6 swingman is doing what he can.

On a big play at the end of overtime, he stole an inbound pass and laid it up for two points, bringing the Red Storm to within one.

“He’s a joy to coach. He’s got a very strong voice. But it may take him a month to be completely comfortable. His knowledge of our playbook is limited.”

D’Angelo Harrison is the star. His statline continues to bear resemblance to those we saw from Dwight Hardy last season: 28 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-7 from distance.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright had nothing but praise for Harrison, calling him the best freshman in the Big East, this side of Connecticut’s Andre Drummond.

Daniel Martin


Daniel Martin is a junior journalism major at St. John's University in Queens, New York. He is also a Digital Media contributor to Hoop Group, the world's most comprehensive basketball company. He works mainly in video production, with additional scouting and feature contributions to HoopGroup.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DanielJMartin_