NEW YORK, NY – Glenn Braica decided not to dive into his Dennis Green impression, but there was still lingering disappointment from the St. Francis Brooklyn contingent following Sunday’s 63-56 loss to St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.
The Terriers were looking to pull the upset against a Red Storm squad down on their luck and at the beginning of a rebuilding process this season. In the 78-game history of this local rivalry, St. Francis Brooklyn has won just 12 times. Even worse, in recent years the rivalry has been decidedly one-sided. St. John’s has now won 33 of the last 34 meetings against the Terriers, including seven in a row.
Things were looking good for Braica’s squad early in the first half as the Terriers opened up a nine point lead with 6:43 remaining in the first half. Then out of nowhere, the Terriers’ ship hit an iceberg.
St. John’s appeared disjointed early on, as they have all season with 11 new players. However, the narrative took a turn off a Yankuba Sima put-back dunk with just under six minutes remaining.
That dunk started a run of 19 points in a row for St. John’s before Yunus Hopkinson finally stopped the bleeding with a jumper as time expired on the first half. Over that 5:58, the Terriers went from leading 23-14 to trailing 33-25 going into the break.
“We got out early in the first half and made some shots and got ahead,” Braica said. “I think it was a little bit of a trap because I thought we took some bad shots during the stretch when they went on that run at the end of the first half. We had a couple of live ball turnovers which lead to run outs. We took some questionable shots.”
St. John’s maintained a steady lead for most of the second half, but the Terriers were able to close within four points twice in the frame before a Hopkinson layup cut the lead to two with just over a minute remaining.
However, a baseline jumper from Durand Johnson as the shot clock expired on St John’s next possession stifled the Terriers’ hopes of an upset. A pair of free throws from Johnson pushed the lead back to five with 18 seconds remaining. Alas, St. Francis Brooklyn had let the Red Storm off the hook.
“We just were told ‘don’t give up,’” St. Francis’ Chris Hooper said of the second half surge. “They had a run, we got down, we just didn’t give up. We just pressured them, pressured them, to see what happened.”
Hopkinson and Antonio Jenifer paced the Terriers with 10 points apiece. Tyreek Jewell sparked the first half offense to finish with nine points, while Keon Williams showed life from behind the arc, knocking down 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
Although this is clearly a rebuilding year for St. John’s, but wins against the Red Storm don’t come often for the Terriers. No matter the state of the programs, a win over St. John’s would have been a positive for the Terriers’ resume, but the true goal remains in improving in preparation for NEC play.
“It was a good experience for our team,” Braica said. “We just need to move forward off this and get better. It’s not going to determine our season.”
Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac, the MAAC, and Hofstra among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.
3 thoughts on “St. Francis Brooklyn Let St. John’s Off The Hook”
Think that, despite their inconsistent shooting, the Terriers are starting to show the form that will make them a team to reckon with once the Conference games begin. They got by last year with effort and it appears to be still there with this year’s edition. The graduation of Jalen Cannon, Brent Jones and Co., plus the recent loss to injury of PG Glenn Sanabria, has obviously been a challenge. However, off the last three games (wins against Hartford and Lafayette on the road, and the narrow loss to St. John’s at the Garden), they seem to be on the right track. The last two games have been without Sanabria, but it looks like Yunus Hopkinson and Dagur Jonsson have been able to pick up those PG responsibilities pretty effectively. Also, both Chris Hooper and Amdy Fall, with back-up from Tony Jenifer, will likely be far more effective against guys with a little less length than St. John’s. Keon Williams finally looked the part of the highly-touted recruit, as he was very active at both ends of the court. If he continues, he just may evolve into the “go-to” guy that Glenn Braica is seeking at this point. He has the size and skills. Off this game, St. John’s should expect to see a lot of defensive pressure vs. their backcourt, especially when they get into the Big East portion of their schedule, where the pressuring guards will be a lot bigger.
I hope you’re right Dan. It’s so hard to know what team is good right now, but we’ll see once conference play begins. Like if you look right now Mount St. Mary’s is 2-6 but have played Maryland Ohio St, Gonzaga, and Washington. Then there is LIU who is 4-2 but none of the teams they’ve played has a winning record right now. So its hard to tell, but the Terriers could make a run at it if they play good D and are disciplined with the ball. They seem to be better at the 3-pointer this year than last, but that just what I’ve seen not stats.
Kind of hoping that Terrier fans see a bit more of Keon Williams, and perhaps Jon Doss and Marlon Alcindor down the line. Williams looks like he’s starting to get it. Doss and Alcindor appear to be legitimate three-point threats capable of providing some scoring off the bench during those Terrier multi-minute droughts experienced from time to time. In particular, Doss shot 40% from three during his juco career. And that was at the Junior College Division 1 level. Plus he’s quick and seems pretty capable on the boards for a 6-4 wing. Alcindor came to St. Francis with the reputation of being a top-flight scorer. Although he sat out last year, his offensive talents were certainly on display this summer around NYC, where he really raised some eyebrows with his ability to score vs high-caliber opposition. Hopkinson has been a bit of a surprise with he way he has stepped up, and Jonsson looks like the real deal. Overall, think the pieces may all be there for the Terriers, but they still have to determine who will be their “go-to” offensive guys at crunch time, the roles played last year by Cannon and Jones. Certainly, the effort and the defense are still there. They still have time to figure that out before the Conference games begin.