David Jones of St. John's in action against Providence at Madison...

David Jones of St. John's in action against Providence at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Credit: Louis Lanzano

David Jones was back on the floor with St. John’s for Saturday’s game against 20th-ranked Providence with a little something extra to play for.

The junior forward had missed the previous two games to return to Santo Domingo to mourn the untimely passing of his father and grieve with his family. His return to the Red Storm, along with the deep compassion and sympathy of his teammates, created an inspiration and purpose that showed up in a 73-68 Big East victory before 10,210 at the Garden.

The victory, the Red Storm’s second most impressive of the season after the January road win at then-No. 6 UConn, halted a three-game losing streak.

David Apolinar Jones Sr. had battled health issues and passed away after a heart attack Feb. 3. He was 54. Jones said his father taught him to play basketball and provided the inspiration for him to play at the major college level.

“I just want to play for my dad’s name,” said Jones, who had 16 points and seven rebounds. “I just wanted to win for him [and] I was willing to do anything that it takes to win this game . . . I felt like he was right behind me in everything I was doing.”

Jones scored seven points in an 18-4 burst that put St. John’s (15-11, 5-10) ahead 25-9. The Friars (18-7, 10-4) tied it at 39 in the second half but never got in front.

AJ Storr scored 15 points, Dylan Addae-Wusu added 13 and Joel Soriano had 10 points and 13 rebounds for St. John’s. Posh Alexander was sharp in a 10-point, nine-assist effort. Bryce Hopkins scored 29 for Providence.

Jones got back Tuesday, a new tattoo emblazoned on his right arm with his father’s nickname “El Varon’’ — meaning “The Man’’ — and the dates of his life. He decided he was mentally fit to play Friday and said: “I woke up today and I was like, ‘Let’s do it!’

“Then today before the game, Posh talked to me and he was like, ‘You know who we are doing it for’ and it got on my mind . . . I was going to do anything to win today.”

Said Alexander, “I just wanted to let him know that everyone on this team has his back no matter what — he lost his dad and we all were saddened. It was like, ‘Let’s do this for your dad today. Let’s try to win this . . . just win this game for your dad.’ And that’s what we did. He played well and this team played well.”

St. John’s led 60-52 with 7:51 left when Addae-Wusu drew a charging foul on Ed Croswell and the Friars called timeout. As Alexander walked to the huddle, he exhorted the fans and they roared their approval.

“That was a big play, so when they called timeout, I felt like we had them,” Alexander said. “I just wanted to get the crowd involved, have them scream and the building to shake and we could just feed off that.”

Even Providence coach Ed Cooley sensed something different about the Red Storm after Jones’ return. “I have a lot of prayers for Jones . . . and he played with a sense of purpose today,” he said. “His team kind of rallied around that . . . they just played a little bit more spirited.”

Notes & quotes: Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski made his first appearance at a Division I game since his retirement and spoke to the Red Storm before tip-off . . . Mike Anderson decided Andre Curbelo would not play and did not explain why. Curbelo was on the bench in street clothes . . . Brandon Gardner, the 6-9 St. John’s signee out of Christ The King, was introduced at center court during a timeout.

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