St. John's scored first, but Saint Mary's went on a 10-0 run to take a 11-5 lead early. The Gaels set the pace offensively in the early going and maintained that dominance throughout the half.
Brad Waldow banked in a shot-clock buzzer beater that gave him 11 points, in just under ten minutes of play. The Red Storm feature one of the nation's elite shot blockers in Chris Obekpa — elite as in posting the highest block percentage in the nation as a freshman, and third highest as a sophomore last season.
Obekpa did pick up two early blocks but the Gaels attacked him relentlessly. Waldow's skill and strength in the paint made that strategy quite effective.
The Red Storm are the more defensive minded of the two teams but the Gaels managed to completely shut them down. St. John's went scoreless from the field for over ten minutes, from 17:21 to 7:16, during which they missed 11 straight shots.
The Johnnies' nearly ended that drought with an absurd Rysheed Jordan highlight-reel shot. As Jordan was flying over the baseline he threw the ball up from behind the backboard and watched it fall nicely into the hoop. When the ball passes over the backboard, even if it's heading away from the baseline, it's out of bounds, so the basket didn't count.
It looked cool nonetheless.
With just under two minutes to play, Sir'Dominic Pointer fell down in the paint and Emmett Naar stole the ball. Kerry Carter came up with it on the fastbreak and dumped it off to Desmond Simmons who finished through contact. That quick possession capped a 10-2 Gaels run.
Saint Mary's took a 33-18 lead into the locker room at halftime.
St. John's opened the second half on a 7-0 run over the first three-and-a-half minutes.
True to his first half form, it was Brad Waldow who put an end to the Gaels' scoring drought with a dunk that extended their lead to ten.
An 8-0 St. John's run followed, which allowed the Johnnies to storm back to within two possessions of the Gaels.
During the middle of the second half the Red Storm turned up their defensive intensity. Saint Mary's turned the ball over repeatedly and St. John's turned those turnovers into points. Chris Obekpa tied things up at 41 with 8:55 to play. An Emmett Naar turnover on the next possession led to two Sir'Dominic Pointer freethrows that gave St. John's its first lead since starting the game up 3-0.
Chris Obekpa fouled out with 2:42 to play and his team up by two. His fifth foul came just possessions after an emphatic block on Brad Waldow.
A defensive player, Obekpa's absence was far from impactful. The Red Storm offense took over the game in the second half behind Sir'Dominic Pointer and D'Angelo Harrison.
Additionally, the Gaels' offense fell to pieces late. They trailed by three with under a minute to play when Kerry Carter passed up a lane to the basket in order to stay behind the three point arc. He nearly lost the ball a couple of times before managing to get it out to Brad Waldow. Waldow drove to the hoop as the shot clock wound down but couldn't get his shot to fall.
The Gaels were forced to send the Johnnies to the line from then on, but the free throws were falling and the lead expanded.
Brad Waldow finished with a game high 26 points for the Gaels, who fall to 6-3 on the season after two straight losses. St. John's improves to 9-1 this season.