Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Rutgers fall in double overtime exhibition against St. John's

What was meant to be an early October exhibition game benefitting the Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fund at the Jimmy V Foundation turned into a double overtime thriller as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights fell 89-78 on the road against Rick Pitino and the St. John's Red Storm in front of a rowdy crowd at the Carnesecca Arena.

It was a tale of two different halves for the Scarlet Knights, who struggled to get the offense going in the first half but found life in the second half, battling back from a nearly 20-point deficit to send the game to overtime.

"We turned the ball over a ton, so they got extra opportunities. You know, that's a good team," said Rutgers head coach Steve Pikiell. "Those kids are all elite players, you know, from all the different places. We settled down in our first game on the road. I thought we settled down and kind of played Rutgers basketball in the second half."

The Red Storm jumped to an early lead in the first half behind their defense, which smothered the Scarlet Knights. St. John's spent the entire first half pressing the Scarlet Knights the whole length of the court, forcing bad shots and several turnovers.

The Scarlet Knights would find themselves down after the first 20 minutes, 41-23, as they failed to convert from beyond the arc, shooting 0-for-10.

The tide would turn in the second half for Rutgers, who would begin to rally from behind solid defense and big-time buckets at critical points of the half. Rutgers would get the score within 11 with 12:35 to play with back-to-back threes from freshman guard Gavin Griffiths and a defensive stop that resulted in a layup from Derek Simpson.

Noah Fernandes would force a turnover to give the Scarlet Knights their first a 61-60 lead with little over three minutes remaining. Both clubs exchanged leads towards the end of the period. A heavily contested layup from Simpson connected with less than two minutes remaining.

However, St. John's Gary Taylor II tied the game with one of two free throws with 17.3 seconds left. The Red Storm blocked a potential game-winning three-pointer by Gavin Griffiths that would have sealed the game for the Knights, forcing overtime.

Rutgers' offensive hot stretch would roll over into the first overtime period along with their defense that would hold St. John's scoreless for nearly four minutes in the first overtime period. A late collapse would occur with a buzzer-beater from Red Storm graduate student Nahiem Alleyne, who would send the game into double overtime.

Momentum would shift for St. John's, who would take over in the second overtime period, ending the game on a 14-3 run, putting Rutgers away.

Center Clifford Omoruyi finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Griffiths scored 14 points and added five rebounds.

Overall, Pikiell saw today's loss as a learning lesson for his club early in the season.

"I just think, you know, we were down 20 at one point, so to come back and tie the game a couple of times. We just got some timely rebounds a couple more free throws, but you can't put yourself in a hole like that either, especially when you're on the road. So, I think we learned a lot to take a lot from this."