Tonight’s game between St. John’s and Rutgers closed out the Gavitt Tipoff Games for the 2018-19 season. While this season’s edition of the games left much to be desired for the conference the final game on the docket at least gave the conference a final high note and one of three on the course of this week as the Red Storm rolled by the Scarlet Knights by a score of 84 to 65.
With Sedee Keita out at the moment for the Red Storm, Marvin Clark II was the only forward to be called on as St. John’s set themselves up with a guard heavy lineup for tonight’s game. This set up allowed them to space out and work heavily in moving the ball against the Scarlet Knights. In the end it worked, but took sometime to get going as the first half was much of St. John’s finding their offensive tempo and working out the best way to go at Rutgers.
Luckily they were able to do with a Scarlet Knights team in the first half that was not offering up much other than working close to the basket as they struggled at both the foul line and from the three point line which was a reverse of the first two games this season. It would not be until the six minute mark that Rutgers would get their first three point basket of the game. Still though Rutgers briefly flirted with coming close to the lead in this game but could not capitalize on the early errors of the Johnnies and instead started to wither as the game went on.
In the early goings it was LJ Figueroa would got the Red Storm firing as he ended the first half with 16 points on 5-7 shooting and made up the bulk of the offensive threat for the Johnnies in the first half. He would not be the leading scorer on the night for St. John’s as that honor would go to Mustapha Heron. Still though Figueroa definitely had a coming out party for the Red Storm tonight in terms of his play as he ended the night with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds, which was the leading mark for tonight’s game.
As for Heron his story in tonight’s game is the second half as he took the game over and continued his hot handed start to this season. He ended the night with a game leading 27 points and in the second half alone scored the bulk of that with a 20 point showing over the duration of the twenty minutes of play. A decent amount was done from beyond at the arc as Heron and Marvin Clark II tag-teamed with a total of six three pointers between the two of them and in the case of Clark making up for all of his scoring in the second half.
Rounding out the scoring tonight for St. John’s was Clark with his aforementioned 12 points, and Justin Simon had a solid 10 point game tonight too. Where was Shamorie Ponds? Well Ponds tonight had a quitier game tonight compared to his first two in this season finishing with only 8 points on the game but made up for it was a game leading 6 assists. In years prior when Ponds went cold that would have lead to issues for St. John’s play but tonight and potentially going forward it may be water under the bridge as what Ponds may lack can now easily be picked up by those around him on the Red Storm’s roster.
As a team, the Johnnies tonight shot the ball at a rate of 47% from the floor, a solid and giving Rutgers a taste of their medicine 50% from beyond the arc, and a decent 75% from the foul line. They did not get much bench production only 4 point in total and kept turnovers to a mark of 10 on the game. Lastly on the battle of the boards, Rutgers out rebounded St. John’s 42 to 39 rebounds.
As for the Scarlet Knight side of things, it was not exactly a game to remember for Rutgers as they struggled to stay in the game or build much momentum over the forty minutes of play. They had their chances but failed to capitalize in the wake of St. John’s errors early on and later got punished by the Red Storm hot hands in the second half.
Eugene Omoruyi and Issa Thiam were the leading scorers tonight for Rutgers with Omoruyi finishing the night with 12 points and Thiam having himself a 13 point night. As a team, the Scarlet Knights shot the ball at a rate of 35% from the floor, 27% from beyond the arc, and 56% from the foul. Not the best percentages and definitely leaving something to be desired after the early hot start to this season. They did use the bench as a great source for this game with 22 points coming off of the pine tonight. In terms of fouls there is not much to report other than a hook and hold early in the game tonight on St. John’s and Ron Harper Jr. finishing the night with four fouls.
With the Gavitt Games now closed, St. John’s turns toward their next adventure on the season as they head to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn to take part in the Legends Classic on Monday and Tuesday of next week. First up in that slate of games with be against the Golden Bears of California followed by either Temple or Virginia Commonwealth.