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St. John’s tries to tighten up defensively vs. Fordham


Rick Pitino was horrified as St. John’s struggled to defend anyone in its last game.

Pitino is hoping to see the Red Storm start making strides with their defense Saturday afternoon when they host Fordham at Madison Square Garden in New York.

St. John’s (6-3) is playing its penultimate nonconference game and seeking a fifth win in six contests overall. The Red Storm saw a four-game winning streak stopped with Sunday’s 86-80 loss to Boston College.

The Red Storm held a 10-point lead with about 15 minutes left but wound up getting outscored 44-28 the rest of the way. It marked the fourth time St. John’s allowed at least 80 points this season.

“We’re trying to win with offense, and you can’t win with offense,” Pitino said. “With a 10-point lead, you’ve gotta play great defense and we didn’t, so we paid for it.”

Against Boston College, the Red Storm allowed high-percentage baskets and 16 second-chance points. The Red Storm scored at least 80 points for the sixth time so far but shot 40.3 percent from the floor.

“We’re pressing like I want most of the time, but the halfcourt defense is just abominable — just abominable — such a disappointment,” Pitino said. “They don’t absorb scouting is the biggest issue … It’s paying attention to the scouting details.”

Joel Soriano paces St. John’s in both points (17.8) and rebounds (10.6) per game.

Fordham (5-5) enters as the Atlantic 10’s worst shooting team at 41.9 percent and is also last in the conference in 3-point shooting at 30.9 percent.

The Rams played their best defensive game of the season Sunday, when it earned a 60-59 win over North Texas on a dunk at the buzzer by Abdou Tsimbila.

Tsimbila’s basket ended a game that saw the Rams shoot 38.3 percent and overcome a 12-point halftime deficit. Leading scorer Japhet Medor was 2-of-13 from the field and is 8-of-34 over his past four games.

“We just got back to being gritty and tough,” Fordham guard Antrell Charlton said. “We knew that’s the type of game we’ve gotta have regardless of who we’re playing, so in practice, that’s all we talked about. We really just got back to our identity, doing what we need to do, diving on loose balls, just being the hardest-playing team on the floor. That’s what we pride ourselves on.”

–Field Level Media

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