By Laura Amato
They had the looks – they just couldn’t hit.
St. John’s had three different chances at the game-winning shot Sunday afternoon, but came up empty on each one as the Red Storm fell to LIU Brooklyn 74-73 at Barclays Center.
The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Storm, a disappointing follow-up after the squad cruised to a victory over Fordham on Thursday night.
“I felt like that was a great play by coach, I just got to take it to them,” said Shamorie Ponds, whose final-second jumper hit off the rim. “I feel like we didn’t carry the energy over that we had the last couple of games. I feel like we came out just too nonchalant and flat.”
St. John’s struggled to find consistency from the get-go, hindered by injuries that kept both Amar Alibegovic and Marcus LoVett sidelined. It was a disappointing lack of energy for a Red Storm squad that attacked every single possession earlier in the week, but couldn’t seem to get over the hump against LIU Brooklyn.
The biggest playmaker for the Red Storm early came from the least likely candidate – senior Darien Williams. The forward was a big-time spark off the bench, notching 12 first half points. He finished with a career-high 15 points and team-best seven rebounds.
“I thought Darien was phenomenal,” coach Chris Mullin said. “If we didn’t have him in the first half, we’d have been down by 20. I wanted some of our guys to match his intensity and his energy and efficiency.”
St. John’s did its best to up the intensity coming out of the break and the Red Storm jumped out to a seven-point lead with just over 13 minutes left on the clock.
The cushion didn’t last long.
LIU Brooklyn continued to push on the defensive side of the ball, forcing St. John’s into several turnovers to claw back into the game down the stretch.
“I’m not sure,” Ponds said of the reason behind the miscues. “I can’t really answer that, but we’ve just got to bring it every day.”
The Red Storm stole back a bit of momentum when Federico Mussini drained a three with 1:30 left on the clock to go up by four.
But the Blackbirds answered in kind with an Iverson Fleming three-pointer on the next possession. The senior guard followed up with a double-clutch bank shot just over a minute later for the go-ahead LIU Brooklyn basket.
St. John’s had three more chances to hit the game-winner, but the Red Storm turned the ball over twice and Pond’s final-second attempt bounced off the rim.
It was a disappointing turn for a Red Storm squad that had been riding the metaphorical high of an inter-city rivalry win earlier in the week.
Now, the squad gets ready for its next challenge, taking on Penn State at Madison Square Garden and Mullin is anxious to see his squad answer the call.
“We need to be able to do it on a consistent basis because everyone can do it once in awhile,” Mullin said. “The good ones do it all the time. We’re not at that level yet.”