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Clock strikes midnight for St. John’s

December 5, 2009

close...but no cigar.

The perfect season ended for the Red Storm Saturday against No. 6 Duke, as they were defeated 80-71.   St. John’s trailed by 16 at the half, but fought back and cut it to 4 with 10 minutes remaining before finally running out of gas.  D.J. Kennedy once again led the Johnnies with 18 points and 9 assists in the second half, after not recording a point in the first.  Sean Evans had a season-high 17 points while Kennedy led the Red Storm in scoring for the sixth time this season. St. John’s, playing its first game against a power-conference team, shot 50.9 percent but lost its 26th straight on a Top 25 team’s home floor.

The Blue Devils were led by Kyle Singer, who scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half. Nolan Smith added 16 points for Duke (7-1). 

The Johnnies lost one of its starters on the first shot of the game.  Junior Justin Burrell sprained his right ankle when he landed on a Duke player’s foot after his short jumper gave St. John’s a 2-0 lead roughly 25 seconds in.

St. John’s opened the game with 6 straight points, and led 15-14 with about 14 minutes left before Duke took the lead for good by outscoring St. John’s 31-9 during a 10 1/2-minute stretch of the first.

Nolan Smith gave Duke its first double-figure lead with the second of his 3s on consecutive trips down court with 9 minutes left, and 90 seconds later, Singler ended the run by following a missed 3 with a layup that made it 31-15. 

It was the Blue Devils NCAA-record 73rd straight non-conference victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.  The last time they lost a non-conference home-game was against St. John’s in 2000. 

After both teams traded buckets for the majority of the second half, St. John’s reeled off 10 straight points to cut Duke’s lead to 54-50 on Dwight Hardy’s lay-up with about 10 minutes left.

But Lance Thomas hit a jumper, Jon Scheyer hit two free throws and Singler – who was 3-for-15 shooting at that point – hit a 3-pointer during the late 14-2 run that put Duke back in control. 

Despite the loss, St. John’s was more impressive than they have been in any victory this season.  They showed toughness, athleticism, and determination while fighting back in arguably the toughest place to play in the country. 

“I thought we played great tonight, but Duke hit their free-throws and made some shots.  We responded well in a tough environment but you have to give them credit.  They forced a lot of turnovers,” said coach Norm Roberts after the game. 

The Red Storm will resume play Wednesday night in Madison Square Garden against the Georgia Wildcats in the SEC-Big East Invitational.  Game time is 7 pm.    The game will be followed by Kentucky vs. UConn at 9:30.

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4 comments

  1. as I said last night, this team is better than it looks no?


  2. I think they played really well against Duke and showed me that they have a shot at the tourney this year. They also still don’t have their best player, Mason J.R., who comes bck in a few weeks. They cannot slip up though in the rest of their out of conference games.


  3. Holiday Tournament is going to be tough… Hofstra and Cornell are quality opponents. We’ll see how they come out looking after those two games.


  4. Cornell is good, but St. John’s should handle Hofstra. If they can’t, well shame on them.

    Cornell has to get by Davidson though.



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