Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis is one of the historic cathedrals of college basketball, immortalized in popular culture by the 1986 film "Hoosiers." In recent years, it has been anything but charming for St. John’s. And so it was again on Tuesday night.
The Red Storm saw their six-game winning streak halted when Butler evened the score in the final ticks of regulation and then made enough plays in overtime to eke out a 76-73 Big East victory at Hinkle. This makes seven straight seasons that St. John’s has emerged from the landmark structure defeated.
This one was the closest of those and was especially painful given that the Storm let a 16-point first-half lead get away.
The Bulldogs’ Aaron Thompson drove through traffic and across the lane to put in a righty layup with 2.3 seconds left in regulation to tie it 68-68 and force the extra period.
St. John’s (13-8, 7-7) briefly grabbed a 73-72 lead on Julian Champagnie’s three-point play with 2:25 left in overtime, but Butler (7-10, 6-8) answered with a Thompson layup on the other end for the final lead change with 2:04 left.
The Storm’s last four possessions ended with a charging foul, a turnover, the missed front end of a one-and-one, a missed jumper in the paint and a pair of missed three-pointers. Champagnie, who had 19 points and eight rebounds, took a hotly contested three-pointer with about four seconds left that caromed off the front of the rim. Posh Alexander got the offensive rebound and took it back over the three-point line for a desperation heave that missed everything with three-tenths of a second left.
"We’ve got a disappointed locker room in there," Storm coach Mike Anderson said. "All our guys played well enough to win, but we just didn't finish . . . They wanted it a little bit more than we did. They made a couple more plays."
In the second half and overtime, Butler was 16-for-33 shooting and Anderson said "the defense wasn’t up to the standards it’s been."
Part of that could be attributed to Alexander dealing with foul trouble. The star freshman played the last 7:18 of regulation and overtime with four fouls.
Isaih Moore had 13 points, including five powerful dunks and Rasheem Dunn lived off his pull up jumper to score 12 points, with five assists for St. John’s. The Storm’s Dylan Addae-Wusu had seven points and six assists and was entrusted with the ball in several key situations. His driving layup with 28 seconds left in regulation put St. John’s up 68-66. But in the final two minutes, he was called for a charge and missed a difficult driving layup.
Bryce Nze had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Thompson had 17 points and 10 assists for Butler.
There will be plenty for St. John’s to look back on from this latest demise at Hinkle. In the overtime, the Storm was 2-for-7 shooting, missed the front end of two one-and-ones and made two turnovers. A game there for the taking eluded them.
"Our guys are hurting," Anderson said. "We’ve been in some games like this . . . We’ll learn from it."