The Red Storm lost their third straight game, all in the start to the conference season, a 74-67 defeat to No. 8 Villanova on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
The conference season started with road losses to Xavier and Georgetown.
"Scheduling-wise things will balance out but we have to focus on becoming a better team, on competing and playing together," he said. "Sustaining your effort, that only gives you a chance to win. It doesn't guarantee you're going to win. We are playing the toughest part of the schedule but it's not going to get any easier. Nothing is given to you in this league. We had the most difficult first three games of anyone. There is no argument about that."
The Red Storm gave themselves a chance to knock off a top 10 team.
They were playing defense well enough that Villanova was struggling from the field like they hadn't in recent games. St. John's led 56-55 with 7:44 to go but the Wildcats went on a 10-1 run that turned the game and sent the Red Storm to 0-3 in the Big East.
"I expected to be 3-0 and our whole team expected to be 3-0," said JaKarr Sampson, who had 10 points and nine rebounds. "We have to play with energy and heart, play with a chip on our shoulder. We have to clean up a few things down the stretch. That's the main thing."
Villanova had made 26 3s in their last two games and they shot better than 50 percent from beyond the arc in the wins over Providence and Seton Hall.
With St. John's playing some tough perimeter defense, the Wildcats made just three of their 14 3-point attempts and down 56-55 with 7:44 to play.
"I thought St. John's played really well. Their defense was outstanding." Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "They did a great job of getting up on all of our people and challenging them."
The Wildcats, who were doing a good job of scoring inside when the outside was dry, finally found a way to get going from the outside and that was the key to the 10-1 run.
The Wildcats (15-1, 4-0 Big East) made two 3s in that run and both came off a big play by one of the team's leaders—Ryan Arcidiacono and JayVaughn Pinkston.
"Players have to make plays and JayVaughn and Ryan did," Wright said. "I'm really proud of Jay to be a decision-maker not just a scorer. He kicked it out to Darren for a 3 that was a huge play."
First, though, in the run was the play by Arcidiacono. He made a steal near midcourt and then took off for what looked to be a contested layup.
Freshman Kris Jenkins, who is averaging just over a 3-pointer this season, buried the 3-pointer that started the 3-point run.
Pinkston, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds, made his big play after he contributed two free throws to the run. He had the ball inside and rather than go up among a bunch of big men, he passed it out to Darrun Hilliard, whose 3 gave Villanova a 63-56 lead.
The Wildcats came into the game having shot better than 50 percent from the field and 3-point range in their last three games. Against St. John's (9-6, 0-3) they struggled from both in the first half shooting 25.9 percent from the field (7 of 27) and 22.2 percent from 3 (2 of 9).
The game was close through the first 12 minutes of the second half with neither team having more than a three-point lead until Villanova went on a 10-1 run that gave it a 65-57 lead with 3:13 to go.
"At the end they made enough plays and then some timely 3-point daggers," Lavin said. "They made enough to get the win because we came up empty on our end."
The Red Storm missed a lot of shots inside and they went 4:40 without a field goal during Villanova's game-deciding run.
Josh Hart added 14 points for the Wildcats while Arcidiacono added 13.
D'Angelo Harrison had 22 points for the Red Storm, who have lost three straight, while freshman Rysheed Jordan had 12.