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St. John’s survives final nonconference test, 77-73

The Johnnies improve to 10-2

NCAA Basketball: St. John at St. Joseph Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s traveled to Mohegan Sun for their final nonconference test on Wednesday evening to face off against the St. Joesph’s Hawks. The A10 squad came into this one with a 5-5 record, but gave the 9-2 Red Storm all they could handle.

First Half

This game started off on a rapid pace out of the gates, as neither team wasted any time getting shots up. The shot clock had zero impact on Wednesday evening.

Both teams were stride for stride in the early going. They matched tempos, along with some lazy defense to stick with each other throughout the first frame. This at times felt like an intense game of pick-up. Shamorie Ponds helped this feel, as each of his points was followed by a point an chirp towards the St. Joe’s bench. For a nonconference game, there was no love lost in this one.

Between Ponds and Tariq Owens, the first half gave us some wild sequences. While Ponds was hitting back to back threes, Owens was finishing thunderous alley oops and blocking jumpers at the other end.

Battling back and forth amongst quick possessions, the Johnnies were able to grab the lead late in the half and take a 44-41 lead into the half.

Ponds led the way through the first 20 minutes, going 5/10 from the floor for 16 points. Bashir Ahmed added 8 of his own early on. St. John’s shot 14-30 FG during the first half. Each team took at least half of their shots from three point range.

Second Half

St. John’s came out flat to open the second frame, as the Hawks jumped out to a quick 8-0 run led by Shavar Newkirk and Taylor Funk. The Johnnies would answer back however with a 6-0 run of their own while St. Joe’s missed their next 5 FG’s.

As we dipped under the 10 minute mark, the Hawks seemed to become a little tentative with the ball. For St. John’s it was quite the opposite. St. Joe’s would wake up after their dull patch, and we had a tight one down the stretch.

Despite 19 turnovers on the night for the Hawks, they were able to hang punch for punch with the Red Storm.

St. Joe’s cut the Johnnies’ lead to two with 24.2 seconds left, but two Ponds free throws would extend the lead back to four, and the Red Storm would survive.

Game Notes

  • Shamorie Ponds led the charge for the Red Storm, finishing with 28 points (9/15 FG) and 7 rebounds. Bashir Amhed would add 16 points and 5 boards.
  • Shavar Newkirk led the Hawks with 26 points on 11-20 shooting. Taylor Funk and James Demery each had 15.
  • St. John’s shot 44.8% while St. Joe’s posted a 41.4% clip.
  • Justin Simon finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists.

St. John’s now awaits Providence to open Big East play next Thursday.