Following their win over Wagner last Friday, St. John's walked into their matchup with UMBC looking to build off of the successes they had against the Seahawks.
Well, 40 minutes later, St. John's walked away with win number two of the Chris Mullin era by the score of 75-53.
Once again the guiding point for St. John's was the play of Federico Mussini. Mussini, the leading scorer on opening night, followed with another excellent performance, finishing with 18 points, four rebounds and a team-high six assists. The Italian guard flashed efficiency, shooting 5-for-9 from the field and an impeccable 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
Mussini's performance was complemented by Pittsburgh transfer Durand Johnson who had 15 points on a 7-for-12 mark from the field. The Johnnies saw excellent minutes from the bench as well. Ron Mvouika in particular served as a reliable sixth man for Mullin this game, netting 16 points and a 4-for-4 mark from the 3-point line.
Underneath the rim, Yankuba Sima was plying his trade on defense from the get go. Sima finished the night with a team-leading eight rebounds and five blocks. Concerning was the fact that he committed four fouls, but Sima again showed flashes of development down low, consistently disrupting UMBC ball movement.
The Retrievers did hang and run with the Johnnies at various points during the game, including a pretty strong run at the start of the second half where the Red Storm looked slightly in disarray to what UMBC had on the floor. Their leading scorers tonight were Joe Sherburne and Rodney Elliot, both of whom finished with 16 points apiece. Cody Joyce led the way on the boards with 10 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive side of the ball.
The Chris Mullin era is now two games in, and so far the signs have shown that St. John's is steadily improving. Comparing this game to Wagner is rather night and day. Against the Seahawks, St. John's was just kicking the tires on this season and showed in their play, a win with sloppy play. Tonight against UMBC, they looked much better, had a stride of confidence in their play with a better grasp for running the style of play Mullin wants in his team. There was some slight sloppiness on defense but did tighten up over the course of the game. If anything this game was just part of the process and a nice step forward for the Johnnies heading into the Gavitt Tip-Off Games.
Next Game: The Red Storm (2-0) take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Thursday night.