At its best, Mike Anderson’s relentless uptempo style of play is known as “40 minutes of hell.” This was more like a roller coaster.
Fortunately for St. John’s, it survived. But not by much. A 20-point second-half lead got trimmed to one in the final minute. Large stretches of strong play nearly went to waste.
Ultimately, though, the Johnnies survived dogged Boston College in the Mohegan Sun bubble in Uncasville, Conn., improving to 3-0 on the strength of a 97-93 victory.
Up 13 with 2:39 left, St. John’s nearly came undone, allowing Boston College to reel off 12 of the game’s next 13 points. But Greg Williams Jr. hit three clutch free throws in the final 43 seconds and Julian Champagnie, in his season debut after missing the first two games with an ankle injury, put an exclamation point on a huge performance with a potential game-saving block of a Wynston Tabbs 3-pointer.
John McGriff iced it with a free throw on the other end, and the Red Storm beat its first high-major opponent of the season. A one-point favorite, Boston College had entered coming off a quality win over Rhode Island and a strong showing against Big East-favorite Villanova.
Champagnie, a sophomore from Brooklyn, showed no rust coming off the bench, scoring a game-high 29 points and adding 10 rebounds. He showed a soft touch from the perimeter, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, and was aggressive attacking the rim. Freshman point guard Posh Alexander was again a two-way factor, with 18 points, five assists and four rebounds and Williams added 17 points and six assists. Tabbs led Boston College with 23 points.
St. John’s was in control most of the way after a shaky start, building a 12-point lead at halftime and went up 20 early in the second half.
Boston College responded to that deficit with a 14-0 run. St. John’s wobbled from the haymaker, but steadied itself. Champagnie scored four consecutive points and Dylan Addae-Wusu drew a big charge on Tabbs that wiped away a basket, stabilizing the game for the time being.
There were early jitters for St. John’s, taking a big step up in class after home victories over Saint Peter’s and La Salle. Boston College scored the game’s first five points. It started six of eight from the field and built a 10-point lead.
From there, though, St. John’s woke up, ripping off a 14-5 run to get within a point on an Alexander drive. Later in the half, there was a 13-0 run, fueled by a pair of Champagnie 3-pointers and a pair of dunks, first from Williams and later Williams finding Isiah Moore. By halftime, that 10-point deficit had become a 12-point lead.
Alexander and Champagnie fueled the outburst, combining to score 30 points on 12 of 17 shooting from the field. The pressure got Boston College out of sorts, leading to 15 points off nine turnovers.