PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Marcus LoVett scored 26 points, Shamorie Ponds added 22 and St. John’s closed on a 6-0 run to beat Providence, 91-86, Wednesday night.
Ponds made two free throws with 1:13 left to give St. John’s an 87-86 lead and Darien Williams stole it on the other end. LoVett had his jumper blocked by Alpha Diallo with 13.6 seconds left and Providence’s Kyron Cartwright lost it going up for a potential winning shot. LoVett saved it with an over-the-shoulder pass before falling out of bounds and Ponds, a freshman, made two free throws with 1.3 seconds left. After Providence turned it over on an inbounds pass, Ponds hit two more.
“Every game for us is a learning experience,” coach Chris Mullin said. “There are the games that really catapult not only the team, but guys individually, stepping up on the road, being down, having a good first half, getting down by six in the second half. It just reinforces all of the hard work they put in. I think what it really does is help them trust and believe in each other. That’s probably the most important thing.”
Malik Ellison and Bashir Ahmed each added 15 points for St. John’s (10-12, 4-5 Big East). It was LoVett’s eighth 20-plus game of the season in just 19 appearances.
LoVett hit a long three-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to give St. John’s a 46-37 lead. But St. John’s had six turnovers in the first four minutes of the second half as Providence rallied to tie it at 51. The Friars opened the second half with an 18-5 run to take its first lead at 53-51 since 4-2.
Rodney Bullock had 20 points and eight rebounds for Providence (13-9, 3-6). Diallo added 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists, and Kyron Cartwright scored 16.