St. John’s reverses St. Francis’ displeasure with Alexander’s dismissal


For 30 minutes, resentment was simply not possible. It seemed probable. Point guard Posh Alexander – St. John’s engine – on a bench in street clothes and a walking boot. St. Francis Brooklyn was unavoidable.

It was an early-season loss to take the air out of the St. John’s Balloon.

But seemingly flipping the switch, the Johnnies found their defensive legs in the final 10 minutes. Coach Mike Anderson went to the small squad as Julian Champagne’s tall player to counter St. Francis’ five-out attack. And their players, in particular Champagne, have enlarged themselves to avoid a huge upset from the 76-70 at the Corneseca Arena.

In the final 10:04, St. Francis scored just six points and two goals. Champagne defeated Brooklyn School by 13-6 and finished with one of the best all-round games of his career: 23 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals and four blocks. Montez Mathis scored 20 points and Stef Smith and Dylan Ade-Vusu filled in for Alexander, who each had 10 points.

The rally avoided an awful loss for St. John’s and wiped out the first 30 minutes of dirt that could not protect the perimeter, smashed the glass and looked like it was trapped in the quicksand.

Julian Champagne dunks the ball for St. John’s.
Robert Sabo

St. John’s took its first lead in the opening minutes of the Mathis slam with 15:24 remaining, but St. Francis did not. Instead, the Terriers rebuilt the lead to nine, creating moments of anxiety for the Janis and a small group. The 12-0 run, which included eight points of champagne, alerted the building, giving St. John’s a three-point margin with 5:46 to go.

Considering the almost flat performance, lack of perimeter defense and poor 3-point shooting in the first 20 minutes, St. John’s is well positioned to go down by just two.

At only 6:26 inches, it looks like it might be a long night. St. Francis couldn’t escape and scored 19 of the game’s first 25 points. Even after St. John’s responded with a 13-0 run, a spurt fueled by defensively active Wheeler answered that the unbeaten Terriers were back with nine straight points. At one point, they were 9-14 from a distance, using their five-out approach to match and create a wide-open look. They were still able to rebound from St. John’s 21-13, which led to a 14-2 edge in second chance points.

Without Alexander and backup point guard Rafael Pinzon (fracture in his left ring finger), Ade-Vusu and Smith were given point guard duties. Neither were acquitted too early. Wusu had two trades and a minus-12 rating, as the offense would settle for long jump shots too often.

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