In another riveting episode of late night Big East hoops, the St. John's Red Storm found themselves in Phoenix to take part in the Valley of the Sun Showcase. A two game exhibition that pit the Texas A&M Aggies against the Arizona Wildcats and the Johnnies versus the Grand Canyon Antelopes.
It was the first time in program history that both St. John's and Grand Canyon met on the court. In the end the Red Storm walked away with a 68-60 victory in this matchup. That along with a treasure trove of facts and information on Grand Canyon, not seen since John Wesley Powell made his way to play against it.
Arizona history jokes aside, St. John's did in fact win this game over the Antelopes, with Grand Canyon proving to be quite the tough task to break down. GCU was always in the rearview mirror, always looking like that could easily tie this game up. This may actually be a looming issue for the Johnnies. That while they can beat teams, they are still struggling to fully break them down. Still though, this expedition proved to be fruitful.
On the floor, it was The Shamorie Ponds Show After Dark™, as Ponds led the way with an excellent showing. Ponds scored 28 points on 10-21 shooting over the span of a full 40 minutes on the floor. While he was one of the most gleaming talents on the court, his efforts were not the only ones that stood out. Justin Simon posted a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Simon was also not the only double-digit rebounder for the Johnnies, as Bashir Ahmed ended up with 10 in this game.
As a team, St. John's shot the ball at a rate of 40 percent from the floor, 33 percent from 3-point land, and 74 percent from the line. Fouls were an issue for the Red Storm this game, as three players found themselves in serious trouble with four. Marvin Clark II ended up fouling out the game. This game was turnover heavy, with both St. John's and Grand Canyon coughed up the ball a combined 39 times. The Red Storm fortunately converted 22 points off GCU’s turnovers.
On the Grand Canyon side of things, their leading scorers were former Oregon Ducks guard Casey Benson with 18, Joshua Braun with 13 and Roberts Blumbergs with 10. Their efforts at times were as mighty as the Colorado River that courses through the canyon itself.
As team, the Antelopes shot 30 percent from the floor, 25% from 3-point range range, and a rather dismal 55 percent from the foul line. The Antelopes turned it over 21 times, with Benson coughing it up six times. Only two of their players tonight ran into serious foul trouble.
With this game now done and dusted, St. John's now move on from the Grand Canyon State to the sun-shined landscape of Los Angeles. It’s there that they will take on the Arizona State Sun Devils in what should prove to a riveting test for the Red Storm.