Northwestern Handed First Loss By St. John's

NEW YORK -- John Shurna scored a game-high 28 points, but Northwestern was unable to hold off St. John's in the second half, falling 85-69 in the championship game of the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night.

The loss is the first of the season for the Wildcats after rattling off eight consecutive victories.

Shurna and Drew Crawford both had the hot hand early on in helping Northwestern surge out a 10-point first-half lead. With the game knotted at 11, the Wildcats went on a 12-2 run to go in front 23-13.

The game took a turn, though, when Michael Thompson was forced to the bench with his second foul with 11:46 remaining in the stanza. The Red Storm would respond with a 14-3 surge to wipe out NU's lead and take a one-point advantage of its own.

St. John's had no answer for Shurna in the first period as he connected on seven of eight field goal attempts en route to scoring 19 points over the opening 20 minutes of play. Crawford added 12 points of his own as Northwestern took a 40-37 advantage in the locker room.

St. John's took a 50-45 just under five minutes into the second half before Shurna scored six straight for the Wildcats to put them up by one with 12:49 to go. That would be the last lead for NU, though.

The Red Storm was able to clamp down on Shurna the rest of the way as he managed only one more field goal attempt in the contest. On the other end of the court, Northwestern was unable to slow St. John's down as it connected on 16 of its 20 field goal attempts after the break.

Trailing by 11 with five minutes to go, Alex Marcotullio hit a 3-pointer to make it an eight-point game. After getting a stop on the other end, Crawford had a good look at a triple, but was unable to knock it down. Justin Brownlee then hit a trey on the other end to basically seal the win for St. John's.

Luka Mirkovic grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for the Wildcats, while Thompson contributed 13 points and eight assists. Crawford added 17 points to the cause. Both Crawford and Shurna were named to the all-tournament team.

Northwestern returns to action at 2 p.m. Thursday as it hosts Mount St. Mary's at Welsh-Ryan Arena. It's Take a Kid to the Game Day. Each paid adult ticket gets two kids in the 8th grade and under in FREE. Tickets must be purchased on the day of the game. Plus, Andy Head the Juggler will be performing at halftime and the men's basketball team will be available for a postgame autograph session.

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