Attempting to secure a winning road trip with a victory in Queens, Seton Hall fell to St. John's, 77-76 on Thursday evening, despite having the game's final possession and an opportunity for a Fuquan Edwin game-winner. Following a failed St. John's inbound attempt that sailed from end-to-end, Kevin Willard drew up a play to go the length of the floor in just under 5 seconds. Jaren Sina found Fuquan Edwin about 4 steps behind the half court line, but good defense from St. John's closed on Edwin, who appeared to be readying a half-court heave. Before Edwin was able to raise the ball, Sir'Dominic Pointer poked the ball loose and time expired. Seton Hall's 20th (unofficial) turnover of the game, would be their last.
Seton Hall heated up a chilly Carnesecca Arena in the game's opening minutes as Brian Oliver sank a pair of 3-pointers, sparking an early 13-3 lead for the Pirates. However, in a game of runs, St. John's was sure to respond and desperate to end their 5-game conference winless streak. In the next 8 minutes of action, the Pirates averaged in excess of one turnover per minute, as they handed control to the Red Storm, despite winning the rebounding battle (18-11) over the first 20 minutes. Despite outshooting (50% FG, 40% 3PT) and out-rebounding the Johnnies, 15-turnovers would account for enough extra possessions for St. John's to head into intermission holding a 35-29 lead.
The Pirates seemed to get away from feeding Eugene Teague when the Red Storm cut the deficit and pulled ahead, as the senior had just one shot attempt in the half's final 8 minutes. When he was receiving early touches, positive results followed. Teague was 3-of-4 from the floor and showed a series of nifty post moves, which included a new double-shoulder fake, followed by a 6-foot turnaround jumper with perfect touch. Following intermission, Teague appeared to show signs of fatigue or simply rust, as he missed consecutive layup attempts that should have been flushed, mixed in with a tired foul or two.
Sterling Gibbs and Brian Oliver were the only men wearing blue to score from the field in the first TWELVE minutes of the 2nd half. While Brian Oliver's nightly en-fuego session kept the Pirates close, the lack of offensive production from any of his teammates appeared to pave the way for St. John's notch their first conference victory. The Red Storm pushed their lead to 16 points on a JaKarr Sampson layup (09:14) which should have been enough to cushion the subsequent 18-5 Pirates run. Seton Hall fought to the end and managed to put one hell of a scare into Carnesecca in the last 30 seconds (seemed like 35 minutes), but the 15 turnovers that told the story in the first half had the final word in the second.
Finally, the Pirates will head back to South Orange following a 3-game road trip that saw them settle for 1-2. Heading into the road trip, I noted it was realistic to think the Pirates could win 1-of-2 on the road, albeit, I expected them to win tonight's contest. A missed opportunity for sure, but they now find themselves where many expected at 2-4, with 2 winnable games in Newark (DePaul, Butler), over the next week. The road, literally and figuratively, gets a lot tougher following these two. The Pirates need to have them both.