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St. Francis College senior forward Akeem Johnson scored 13 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and had his first double-double of the season, but the Terriers still couldn’t stem the Red Storm’s path to victory during its 77–60 loss to St. John’s University at the Barclays Center on Saturday.
Yet the loss didn’t stifle the charge Johnson felt as he showed up at the new home of the Brooklyn Nets for the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival. Playing on the Barclays Center’s hardwood was a special moment in Johnson’s life — and losing to the Red Storm didn’t change that.
“It was a great feeling having friends and family come five minutes away to the Barclays Center,” the Brooklyn native said. “It was a great experience, but I wanted to win tonight.”
The Terriers, who play in the North East Conference, led 19–18 midway through the first half, but St. John’s methodically built a 45–35 half time lead. St. Francis got within 11 points after the break, but the Storm kept on crashing down on the hoop.
St. John’s guard D’Angelo Harrison scored a game-high 25 points and connected on four 3-pointers, and JaKarr Sampson added 21 points and 12 boards — a matchup that was tough to beat, St. Francis coach Glenn Braica admitted.
“The problem with Harrison is he is he’s very good at putting it on the floor as well and very good at getting to the basket,” the coach said.
The Terriers had three players in double figures. Besides Johnson’s stellar showing, Jalen Cannon had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Kevin Douglas added 10 points and six boards.
The Red Storm kept its lead throughout the second half, but the St. John’s squad wasn’t impregnable: Johnson was able to find plenty of gaps in the team’s zone defense.
“It gave me opportunities to sneak in from behind and get an extra rebound here or there,” Johnson said. “I was just being extra aggressive.”
But St. Francis’s points in the paint weren’t consistent. St. Francis took 24 shots from behind the arc, but only made seven thanks mostly to St. John’s forward Chris Obekpa and his nine blocks. Obekpa has 20 blocks over his last two games.
“He’s one of the better shot blockers I’ve seen in a while,” Braica said. “He really changed the game with his shot blocking.”
St. Francis will have a week to digest the loss before the team faces Colgate on Dec. 22 — some much-needed time to rest and get back to practice, said Braica, who explained that the Terriers started the season with 10 of its first 13 games on the road.
“We need a couple of days to kind of rejuvenate,” Braica said. “We’ve had a difficult schedule.”Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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