St. John’s left seeing RedDecember 22, 2009
St. John’s (9-2) has been the staple of the Holiday Festival dating back to its inception in the 1950’s, but could not overcome the hot 3-point shooting of Cornell in the Championship game.
The Big Red was led by Jon Jaques’ 20 points and Jeff Foote added 19 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks and was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
For the first time really all year, the loss of two starters for the Red Storm really seemed to hurt the team as they had one of their worst offensive games of the season. Playing without Justin Burrell and Anthony Mason J.R., the Johnnies consistently turned the ball over and could not get their offense working for long spurts. St. John’s relies heavily on driving to the basket and getting to the free-throw line, but Cornell was surprisingly only called for 10 fouls the entire game including just one foul with three minutes remaining in the 1st half.
“That team right there, when they’re hot, they can beat anybody,” St. John’s Coach Norm Roberts said about Cornell. “Maybe not Kansas or those guys. But they could win a game in the tournament.”
After falling behind by 11 in the first half, Cornell rallied to cut the deficit to 5 at the intermission and then went on a 13-2 run to turn a 6-point deficit into a 5-point lead. The Big Red finally took a 2-point edge on a 3-point play by Foote. Ryan Wittman followed with a 3-pointer for a 52-47 advantage.
Cornell (9-2) is an underrated team and showed that they need to be taken seriously come tournament time.
“I think this is a team full of shooters,” the Cornell senior guard Louis Dale said. “You have Ryan Wittman, who is one of the best shooters in the country. We are a great shooting team from the 3 and free-throw line.”
Jaques swished a 3-pointer from the right wing with 31.5 seconds left, and Hardy missed a 3-pointer to seal the game for Cornell.
“We had our chances at the end,” Kennedy said. “We just didn’t lock in defensively and get the stops that we needed.”
Beating on Norm Roberts seems almost unfair considering how much abuse he takes, but one has to question why Dwight Hardy, who was unguardable, only played 19 minutes. Hardy was 7-12 from the field, including 5-7 from behind the arc, but was taken out of the game for no reason on more than one occasion. Norm’s substitution patters have been a mystery since he began coaching in Queens, but this one might take the cake.
D.J. Kennedy also played well for the Storm finishing with 15 points.
St. John’s resumes play Wednesday night against Bryant, before beginning Big East play on the road at Georgetown on New Years Eve.