The St. John’s Red Storm were able to pick up their second win of the season in convincing fashion, to the tune of a 77-61 victory over the Binghamton Bearcats.
It wasn’t the 47-point thrashing of Bethune-Cookman that saw the Johnnies score 100, but it was a big win nonetheless on Monday night at Carnesecca Arena. The Bearcats kept things close in the first half thanks to the three-ball and some bad shooting from St. John’s. However, the Red Storm were able to pull away with a 15-0 run that tipped off just before the under-16 timeout. They would stretch their lead to as much as 25 before the final buzzer sounded.
Marcus LoVett continued where he left off against Bethune-Cookman, leading all scorers with 23 points. Shamorie Ponds added 21 points along with 10 rebounds(!), four assists, and three steals. J.C. Show paced Binghamton with 12 points.
3 Things We Learned
The Dynamic Duo of LoVett & Ponds: Marcus LoVett had a sterling debut on Friday against Bethune-Cookman, but it was Ponds that burst onto the scene in the second game of the year. LoVett finished the night with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-11 from three. Two of those treys were a part of the 15-0 second half run. He also chipped in 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
Conference and BECB preseason Freshman of the Year pick Shamorie Ponds improved on his 8-point debut with a stat-stuffing explosion. His 21 points came on 7-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. While he also had four assists and three steals, Ponds also pulled down 10 rebounds. Mind you, Shamorie Ponds is a 6-foot-1 guard. Yet he picked up a double-double statline that you usually see from a playmaking small forward.
LoVett & Ponds was the duo that St. John’s fans were waiting for during their 8-24 campaign last season. In game two, they delivered big time for the win.
Drive-and-Kicking Themselves: St. John’s had a strong defensive night overall, but they struggled in the first half with warding off drive-and-kick opportunities. Bearcat guards were able to knife into the lane, draw in Red Storm defenders, and kick out a pass to an open player for a perimeter shot attempt. Binghamton couldn’t completely punish St. John’s for this, going only 5-16 from three in the first half.
St. John’s was able to patch up that issue in the second half, despite Binghamton shooting better from three as the game slipped away (5-of-13 in the second frame). However, that is an aspect they will have to watch out for as they begin playing teams with craftier slashers and sharper 3-point shooters.
Kassoum Yakwe, Paint Protector: While Binghamton was able to go 34.5 percent from three on the night, St. John’s wasn’t allowing any gifts inside of the arc. The Red Storm held the Bearcats to 12-of-30 shooting (40%) on all 2-pointers.
A huge part of the defensive effort can be credited to Malian sophomore Kassoum Yakwe. Yakwe accounted for five of the team’s six blocks. This is his highest block total since his seven against Marquette last January.
Despite last season’s struggles, one of the few things St. John’s ranked highly in was blocks (20th in the nation). Yakwe and Yankuba Sima were the top paint guardians last season. With the addition of Tariq Owens (who picked up a block of his own tonight), opponents are going to have a hard time scoring inside for much of the season.
St. John’s moves on to a Friday matchup against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. The game is a part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.