St. John's came in at No. 8 in the final regular-season D3hoops Top 25 poll, entering the matchup as the nation's leader in rebounding margin and shooting percentage. The Eagles outrebounded and outshot the Johnnies to roll to a 93-78 first-round upset, making the second consecutive year that the UMAC champ has won at St. John's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
It was SJU's first loss on their home court this season and the Eagles 16th straight win. Last year, St. John's lost to Bethany Lutheran in the first round, 102-92.
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- Updated NCAA Tournament bracket
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St. John's (23-5) was first to score, but the Eagles responded with nine consecutive points – five coming from UNW's leading scorer, Tanner Youngberg. The Eagles (22-6) never trailed again.
Northwestern continued to apply the offensive pressure as Brady Bellefeuille and Noah Alm knocked down shots from beyond the arc to go up 20-11 and force a time out by St. John's.
A streak of Northwestern fouls allowed the Johnnies to pull within one point (26-25) with just over eight on the clock. A scoreless minute came to a close on an Anderson Bazile Jr. baseline jumper. Johnny Erickson followed suit, getting in the paint to put UNW up five, followed by a drive and dish to Bazile to complete the 6-0 run.
After a series of back and forth scoring, Noah Alm did what he does best by knocking down a shot from beyond the arc with under a minute remaining. Despite a buzzer beater three by the Johnnies' Oakley Baker, the Eagles entered the half up 39-35. Northwestern connected on 47 percent of shots from the field, while SJU suffered from just 35 percent shooting in first half action.
|The Northwestern bench had plenty of reason to be excited on Friday night at St. John's.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com
Senior Brady Bellefeuille propelled the Eagles to a strong second half start – scoring five points in the first two and a half minutes. The UNW momentum kept pace as three-pointers from Bellefeuille and Alm gave Northwestern a dominant 15 point lead with 13 minutes remaining.
The Johnnies went cold, shooting just 33% from the three as UNW held on to a major lead and increased it to 18 on a Caleb Hageman 3-pointer with 5:30 to go.
SJU missed 15 layups/shots in the paint, including 10 in the first half alone.
Thirteen players saw action as the Eagles rolled to a 93-78 upset over St. John's to advance to the second round.
It was another night of balanced scoring for the Eagles, featuring five players with double-figures. Youngberg led the way after putting together a dominant second half. The junior finished with 21 points on nine of 12 shooting.
Hageman poured in 18 points, while Alm and Bellefeuille shot lights out to finish with 15 and 13, respectively. Bazile dropped in 10 on the night.
Senior guard David Stokman led SJU with 20 points and five assists, while junior wing Jubie Alade added 19 points and five rebounds. Baker finished with 13 points. Stokman ended his career as the program's all-time leader in three-pointers (266), fourth in points (1,492 points) and fifth in assists (321).
The Eagles bested SJU in field goal makes by 12% and out-rebounded the Johnnies, 42-35. The contest marked Northwestern's eighth NCAA Tournament appearance in the past nine years under Tim Grosz.
Northwestern faces No. 4 UW-Oshkosh on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT at Sexton Arena. The Titans enter the matchup with a 24-3 overall record after defeating Lake Forest, 86-62 in first round action.