Durand Johnson, Ron Mvouika and Felix Balamou took turns striking a happy pose at center court with their framed white St. John’s jerseys for senior day at Madison Square Garden.
There haven’t been many happy poses by the rebuilding Red Storm. And this day was no exception.
For the fourth straight time and the 20th time in the last 21 games, St. John’s walked off to the locker room on the wrong side of the final score. Jalen Lindsey hit six three-pointers while scoring a career-high 30 points and Ben Bentil added 23 points and 10 rebounds to power Providence to a wire-to- wire 90-76 win Saturday.
“Senior day, it meant a lot to me, Ron and Felix,” Johnson said after pacing St. John’s with 15 points. “Just to have been through so much adversity on and off the court, just the ups and downs that we battled . . . But Providence, they came out good. I give that team credit. They executed.”
The Friars (22-9, 10-8) clinched the fourth seed in the Big East Tournament at the Garden. The 10th-seeded Red Storm (8-23, 1-17) will face seventh-seeded Marquette (19-12, 8-10) at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“The whole season has been pretty tough,” coach Chris Mullin said. “Obviously, losing is not fun.”
Lindsey’s fourth three- pointer gave Providence a 30-16 lead with 8:54 remaining in the first half. At that point, the 6-7 sophomore guard had hit all seven of his shots and scored 18 of his 20 first-half points.
“We left shooters open, and good players knock down shots,” said Christian Jones, who contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The 6-9 Bentil then scored eight points in less than three minutes as Providence went ahead by 17. By halftime, it was 49-26.
“The effort has been there,” Mullin said. “The execution and results, no. But sometimes you have to just live with that.”
St. John’s went on a 14-4 run to cut it to 63-50, but that’s as close as it got.
“Regardless of how many losses we had this year, I feel like the younger guys, the freshmen, they learned from us older guys,” said Johnson, a 6-6 grad student who transferred from Pittsburgh. “They learned . . . how to never give up, how to come every day to work and compete regardless.”