St. John’s played in just its fourth game in Brooklyn since 1958, defeating Columbia 65-59 at the Barclays Center on Saturday. The Red Storm won two of three games at Barclays this season, in addition to beating St. Francis last season.
Although the university is closely associated with Queens, St. John’s was founded in Brooklyn in 1870. Some of the school’s greatest success came at DeGray Gym, where the team went 156-11 from 1932-56.
On Dec. 9, 1956, St. John’s beat Roanoke 89-62 in the last home game in Brooklyn, before moving to Alumni Hall (since renamed Carnesecca Arena) in 1961. In 1958, before the days of the three-point line and shot clock, the Redmen defeated Brooklyn College, in what would be the last Brooklyn appearance until 2012.
The Red Storm beat St. Francis last year, and then split two games in the Barclays Center Classic earlier this season, before slipping past Columbia in the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival.
“This is precisely the game I expected,” Steve Lavin said of his team’s 65-59 win, explaining that “we knew we were in for a dogfight.”
Columbia came back from a 14-point deficit to go ahead 51-50 in the second half, but St. John’s ended the game on a 15-8 run.
“It goes with having a sense of urgency,” said D’Angelo Harrison who led the Red Storm with 15 points. “We have to have that every possession, not just when we’re up one, up 12 or up 25.”
St. John’s helped Columbia stay around, shooting 14-26 from the free throw line, which Steve Lavin bluntly called “atrocious.”
“You can see we’re a work in progress,” said Lavin, although “I wouldn’t trade our guys for anybody… I see a team that’s growing, that’s maturing.” The team now enters conference play, as the coach looks to February for his squad to hit its stride. “We believe we can surprise some folks along the way but by the second half of league play we have the potential to develop into a dangerous team.”