Right to the last instant, St. John’s expected the whole game to turn out OK. That was the crux of the problem against LIU Brooklyn. The Red Storm did too much expecting and not enough doing.
So it was both a big surprise and disappointment for St. John’s when Shamorie Ponds’ last-second shot glanced off the front of the rim and left the Storm with a flat feeling and a 74-73 interborough loss Sunday at Barclays Center.
True, St. John’s did not have high scorer Marcus LoVett, but LoVett had been out with the same sprained ankle against Fordham on Thursday and the Storm did just fine, winning by 28. This time, it never could grab hold of the game. That spoiled a solid effort by forward Darien Williams (15 points, seven rebounds) and the first college appearance for Ponds in Brooklyn, where he grew up.
“It was good coming back home, but mostly I just wanted to come out with a win,” the freshman guard said after scoring 18 points. “I felt like we were supposed to win this game.”
A feeling of inevitability could not match the strength of LIU’s Jerome Frink (20 points, 12 rebounds) and could not prevent Iverson Fleming (21 points) from making an airborne double-pump shot with 25 seconds left to put LIU ahead 74-73.
Through turnovers and odd bounces, St. John’s had three cracks at a win in the final 18 seconds but got off only one shot, which fell short. A four-game winning streak fell, period.
“I felt like we didn’t carry the energy over we had the last couple of games. I felt like we were nonchalant and flat,” Ponds said.
When he was asked why that happened, he added: “I can’t real ly answer that. I just know we have to bring that [energy] every day.”
LIU was both energized and poised against the higher-profile New York City opponent. Perhaps the key play was Frink’s three-pointer midway through the second half just after the Storm went up by seven.
Fleming knew how big it was for a supposed underdog: “We’re looking to do some special things this season and it helps to show us we can play with anyone if we put our minds to it.”
Chris Mullin knew how much it hurt his team after the progress the Storm made in the aftermath of the embarrassing Delaware State loss. “Everyone can do something once in a while. The good ones do it all the time,” he said. “We’re not at that level yet.”