St. John’s couldn’t hit the mark on Wednesday night and it proved costly.
The Red Storm shot 41% from the floor and 19% on three-pointers and it became their undoing against long-bombing Brigham Young as they lost for the first time this season, a 74-68 Legends Classic defeat in Bubbleville at Mohegan Sun Arena.
BYU (4-1) dictated the style of the play at the beginning, used a 12-0 run in the first half to snatch the lead, never trailed in the second half and finished with 10 three-pointers.
"We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well and I know we’re a better shooting team than that," St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said. "Our defense was good enough . . . . [but] in this game you have to score."
St. John’s (3-1) trailed by six at the break and came out of halftime playing more of its pressure style and pulled even at 43, when it got a Dylan Addae-Wusu three-pointer, a Isaih Moore dunk and a Julian Champagnie floater on three straight possessions; but it couldn’t keep the roll going.
The Cougars answered with a 13-4 burst capped by three-pointers from Trevin Knell and Connor Harding.
Anderson said it was a case of "maturity versus immaturity" with BYU’s experience winning out when it was close "They held their poise – give them credit," he said. "They made some big shots."
The Storm would get no closer than 56-54 when Posh Alexander made a backcourt steal and found Greg Williams Jr. for a layup with 7:17 to play. St. John’s got within 70-66 when Addae-Wusu put back his own miss with 43 seconds left before BYU iced it making four of six free throws the rest of the way.
"I never thought we couldn’t get over the top," Champagnie said. "We weren’t too far behind."
Champagnie had 25 points on 10-for-20 shooting, Moore had 11 points and Alexander had seven assists and six rebounds for St. John’s, which forced 11 of BYU’s 19 turnovers in the second half and turned them into 14 points. BYU used its considerable size advantage to outrebound the Storm 44-35 and had 12 offensive rebounds it converted into 12 points.
Alex Barcello had 20 points as five Cougars scored in double figures.
St. John’s had to feel fortunate to trail by just 29-23 at halftime. BYU was quick to retreat on defense and didn’t allow the Red Storm to play its up-tempo pressing and breaking style. St. John’s had to play half court sets, ended up settling for a lot of jump shots and made just 18% from the floor.
BYU grabbed control with a 12-0 run in the middle of the first half for a 21-12 edge. During it, the Storm went 0-for-9 from the floor with three turnovers in an 11-possession stretch.
Asked about all the early jump shots, Anderson replied "we should have attacked more – I thought we settled."
Storm to play Rider Tuesday. St. John’s filled the Tuesday night vacancy on its schedule that was created when Fordham had to pause its program because of a positive COVID-19 test. The Red Storm will host Rider at 7 p.m. Tuesday instead. The game will air on CBS Sports Network.