Rasheem Dunn was dressed in a St. John’s uniform and finally playing a game after two transfers and some NCAA drama. Now there was more drama.
The Red Storm trailed Vermont by three points Saturday at Carnesecca Arena before the redshirt junior combo guard from Brooklyn buried the tying shot from beyond the arc in Queens with 19.3 seconds left.
But the perfect ending escaped him and the Red Storm after they had rallied from 10 down with 6:41 left. Anthony Lamb nailed a jumper over Dunn with 1.9 showing on the clock to give the mid-major Catamounts a 70-68 win and St. John’s its first loss in the Mike Anderson era that’s now four games old.
“He’s a great player,” Dunn said of Lamb, last season’s America East Player of the Year who finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. “He hit a tough shot.”
This was the Red Storm’s best test yet, but they didn’t pass against the 4-0 America East favorites because they shot just 34.5 percent overall from the floor, 26.3 percent from three-point range and 65.7 percent from the line, missing 12 free throws. They also committed 10 turnovers in the second half.
“It’s a learning experience for this team,” Anderson said, “Each game is going to be a test.”
Dunn received his first test after winning his appeal for a legislative relief waiver from the NCAA Wednesday after originally having his case denied.
The Thomas Jefferson alum hadn’t played a game since Feb. 28, 2018, when he was dressed in a St. Francis Brooklyn uniform. He led the Terriers in scoring, rebounding and steals as a sophomore. He transferred to Cleveland State, sat out last season, then transferred again.
Dunn shot just 4-for-12 but finished with 13 points, one less than Mustapha Heron and LJ Figueroa, who also grabbed 10 rebounds
“For me, it was a wonderful day,” Dunn said, “the first time playing in a year, just having that feel, gain my feel back, gain my groove back, but last but not least, to be on the court with the team I worked hard with all year.”
Everett Duncan hit two both ends of a one-and-one with 28 seconds remaining to put Vermont up 68-65, but Dunn countered with his three.
“Me, personally, I felt like I showed up too late for my team,” Dunn said. “Things like that happen when you don’t play for a year.”
After two Vermont timeouts, Lamb dribbled near the left side of the foul line and let go. The Red Storm were supposed to double the senior forward and didn’t.
“He’s an incredible player, wants the ball in crunch time,” Catamounts coach John Becker said.
St. John’s missed 18 of its first 22 shots. But the Red Storm closed the first half with an 11-0 run to go up 31-26.
Vermont came out of the break with a 17-5 burst, good for a 43-36 lead. Lamb dominated, scoring 13 of the 17. The Red Storm then fell behind 56-46, but they kept coming.
“It’s definitely going to help us moving forward,” Figueroa said. “First loss we had all year with Coach Anderson. … But we believe we’re a strong team. We have a great chemistry.”