PISCATAWAY, N.J. – For the first time in 11 months, the Rutgers has two straight losses. Stone cold in the second half against St. John’s, the Scarlet Knights have a losing record in the Big East heading to the toughest three-game stretch of the season.
Anyone’s game at halftime, St. John’s received a definitive boost from its star player to finish the game and Rutgers did not.
D’Angelo Harrison had a lights-out second half for the Red Storm and quickly turned a one-point halftime lead into double digits with an impressive array of jumpers. Harrison scored 15 second-half points on a 7-for-14 shooting night. Harrison finished with 20 to go along with a game-high 21 from Jakarr Sampson.
“I’m very disappointed in our lack of compete tonight and our lack of execution, especially on the defensive end,” said head coach Mike Rice. “That’s what I can control and I know we’ll go back to work and gauge the fight in this team.”
Where Harrison excelled down the stretch, the Scarlet Knights’ 2012-13 scorer was silent.
Similarly to Madison Square Garden two weeks ago, St. John’s took Elijah Carter out of the game. Carter was an offensive liability against the Red Storm in both games this year, shooting a combined 4-for-28 in two matchups.
Rice benched Carter for the final four minutes of the game. Carter refused to speak to the media in the locker room after the loss.
“He was just missing shots that he would normally make,” said fellow sophomore Myles Mack. “… It was kind of strange [to see him on the bench] because he’s normally in the game. Today just wasn’t his night. It happens. I’m not blaming him or anything, but today just wasn’t his day.”
With the leading scorer off the mark, the rest of the roster failed to pick up the slack. Outscored by 11 points in the last 20 minutes, Mack was the only effective scorer with 17 on 6-of-16 shooting.
After back-to-back losses for the first time this season, the road does not get any easier for Rutgers (12-6, 3-4). The Scarlet Knights face Connecticut this weekend before traveling to Cincinnati and hosting Louisville.
“It’s a big missed opportunity [tonight], but the good thing is we have 11 more games or whatever to get ourselves back on track, especially with a big opportunity coming up against UConn,” said senior forward Austin Johnson. “We’ll definitely rebound.”