PROVIDENCE-St. Johns finished the regular season with a 61-57 loss to Providence at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Saturday afternoon. It was Senior Day for Providence, and perhaps it was experience that have the Friars the edge.
St. John’s has now lost six of seven to the Friars.
“I didn’t know that,” said Providence coach Ed Cooley. “I just go one game at a time. We’ve been fortunate in some, others we haven’t.”
Without Shamorie Ponds and Kassoum Yakwe, a short-handed Red Storm team with six scholarship players cut a 13-point second half deficit to three points in the final minutes but couldn’t come all the way back. Marvin Clark II led all scorers with 14 points and hauled in six rebounds. Justin Simon scored 13 points and dished out nine assists although he also committed 10 turnovers. Bashir Ahmed and Tariq Owens scored 12 points apiece.
Rodney Bullock and Alpha Diallo led the Friars with 13 points apiece. Kyron Cartwright scored 10 points, including a critical three-pointer to give Providence a 53-47 lead. Nate Watson scored nine points in the second half.
After an ugly first half Providence led 26-25 at halftime and then started the second half on a 17-5 run to go up by 13. St. Johns cut it to 50-47 but the Friars pulled away and iced the game at the line.
The Red Storm finish the regular season with a 15-16 record, and the ninth spot in the Big East. Cooley had some positive words about Chris Mullin and the state of the team. “Coach is doing a really good job rebuilding their program. They have some great players, their length is really impressive, they’re one of the younger teams in our league.”
St. John’s will play Georgetown in the opening game of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday night.
The advantage as always for St. John’s is that they get to play at Madison Square Garden. “They’re a tough out,” Cooley said. “And you’ve got to go on their home court at Madison Square Garden. That’s a hard game. That’s a hard game that I hope we don’t have to play right now.”