December 27, 1982. On that day, the St. John’s Red Storm defeated the BYU Cougars 75-64 to improve to 10-0 on the season. The Red Storm would go 28-5 that season, en route to a Big East Tournament Championship.
36 years later, the Johnnies look to hit the 10-0 threshold once again. They have had only two opportunities previously to push their win total to 10-0. The first came back in the 1986-87 season, and the Villanova Wildcats tagged them with a 62-54 loss. The second and last chance they’ve had of getting to that mark came in the 1990-91 campaign. In that go-around, the Syracuse Orange knocked them off 92-86 at the Carrier Dome.
The Red Storm are hoping that the Wagner Seahawks don’t join Villanova and Syracuse in that elusive company on Sunday, when they take on the Seahawks at Carnesecca Arena.
Wagner comes into this game with a 4-4 record. Bashir Mason’s club is coming off two wins against the American University Eagles and New Rochelle. Their other two wins have come courtesy of SUNY Cortland and the Fairfield Stags. Meanwhile, their four losses have come to the Big East’s Seton hall Pirates, the UMass Lowell River Hawks, the NJIT Highlanders and Rider Broncs.
Leading the charge for Wagner is senior guard Romone Saunders. Saunders is currently fifth in the Northeast Conference in scoring, averaging 17.6 points per game. Saunders is also averaging 6.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, proving to be a bit of a do-it-all guard for the Seahawks so far.
Saunders is on the heels of a 23-point showing against New Rochelle, three off his season-best 26-point outburst over SUNY Cortland back on November 13. He’s hit the 20-point mark four times this season, vs. New Rochelle and SUNY Cortland, as well as against UMass Lowell and NJIT. Look for Saunders to be the man that St. John’s has to corral the most.
Wagner has two other double figure scorers in AJ Sumbry and Elijah Davis. Sumbry has put up 11.3 points per game while Davis has totaled 10.9 points per game so far. Sumbry, a 6-foot-8 senior, has proven to be an effective rebounder and shot blocker, too, while Davis has done well on the offensive glass and at picking pockets. This triple threat of Saunders, Sumbry and Davis have been Wagner’s most effective players this season. Devin Liggeons, Nigel Jackson and Chase Freeman have also been solid and productive this year, too.
What has plagued Wagner all season, however, has been efficiency. They have not been good at shooting the basketball and that might be putting it mildly. They are in the red in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, eFG%, 2PT FG% and 3PT FG%. Their best marks are at the FT line and they’ve mostly been about average in those departments. They have no real outside threats on the perimeter and their best interior shooters have only put up marks between 47-53 percent.
A productive and efficient offense, they are not. But St. John’s, meanwhile, has been just that. They rank 31st in AdjOE, 32nd in eFG%, 86th in 2PT FG% and 45th in 3PT FG%. They’re not lights out, so to speak, but they are considerably better than their opposition and should have no problem in getting their 10th win of the season. Mustapha Heron and Shamorie Ponds will likely be too hot for Wagner to handle as they’ve each been awesome this season, as expected.
Expect the good vibes in Queens to continue.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Watch Online: Fox Sports Go