St. John's loses at San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO — Steve Lavin listed all the things his St. John's team failed to do well. San Francisco, his father's former school, served as quite an example on both ends of the floor for the Red Storm as they try to clean things up before the Big East season begins.
De'End Parker scored 21 points and hit a pair of 3-pointers during a decisive second-half run, and San Francisco snapped St. John's four-game winning streak with an 81-65 victory Tuesday night to spoil Lavin's return to his hometown.
"When teams come in with a high caliber behind their name, and come in like, 'We're the man,' we as players have a chip on our shoulder," Parker said. "I play better with a chip on my shoulder. We know when you play St. John's you've got to bring your A game. You're going to bring a little extra fire into it."
Cody Doolin added 18 points and a career-high 14 assists to go with two steals and two blocked shots for the Dons (5-1), who won their fifth in a row since a season-opening loss to Stanford on Nov. 9.
JaKarr Sampson scored 22 points and D'Angelo Harrison had 14 but went 1 for 6 from 3-point range for the cold-shooting Red Storm (6-3), who didn't have a second-half comeback in them this time as has been their winning formula so far.
"I thought San Francisco beat us to the punch in every phase of the game," Lavin said. "I'm not pleased with the unevenness of our play. We didn't play with much purpose. ... USF exposed some things that give us a failing report card of things we need to work on defensively."
USF opened the first 4:03 of the second half with a 14-2 run to take a 52-37 lead. St. John's crept back within 59-56 but didn't get any closer against the up-tempo Dons, who pushed the pace all night and overcame a 37-34 rebounding disadvantage to hand Lavin's team a lopsided loss.
After an impressive 4-0 home stretch in Queens, N.Y., Lavin's team traveled cross-country on Saturday for a short West Coast stop in his native San Francisco — including visits to some of the Bay Area's iconic sightseeing landmarks — before turning around and flying 3,000 miles home.
Lavin's father, Cap, a former USF star, was honored during a special ceremony at halftime as the school recognized the 1949 NIT title team and 1955-56 NCAA championship teams. Cap Lavin played for Hall of Fame USF coaches Pete Newell and Phil Woolpert.
Cole Dickerson grabbed eight rebounds with four on the offensive end for USF. Avry Holmes made three of USF's six first-half 3-pointers as the Dons shot 9 for 15 from long range overall and quickly established the pace.
It was the Dons doing the little extra, like making one more pass. The Red Storm were held to 39.7 percent from the floor, including 3 for 11 from 3-point range.
St. John's began the game 2 for 9 in the opening 5:45 and shot 2 for 6 from beyond the arc in the first half and trailed 38-35 at the break.
St. John's rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to beat New Jersey Institute of Technology on Saturday, but USF wasn't about to let the Red Storm back in this one.
"We had a very uneven performance from start to finish and we played in a very immature way," Lavin said.
A moment of silence was held before tipoff for former Utah coach Rick Majerus, who died Saturday in Los Angeles.
The game attracted more than a half-dozen NBA scouts at Memorial Gym, where USF improved to 4-0 this season and 45-18 under fifth-year coach Rex Walters.
And the Dons showed plenty of talent even if St. John's was the big attraction.
"We want to be aggressive," Walters said. "We're not going to be a team that walks it up."
This marked the seventh overall meeting between the storied programs. St. John's has won four times, including a 92-77 victory on Dec. 30, 2000, at Madison Square Garden.