It’s a stupid cliche.
Live by the three.
Die by the three.
Tonight it was its truest most poignant self.
Creighton took a bunch of threes. A lot of them were open and in rhythm. More of them met iron than not, which took away the typically potent offense and delivered a perfect opportunity for St. John’s and Shamorie Ponds to seize the moment.
They did just that.
With the frenetic pace that both teams utilize, St. John’s was simply able to outlast any attempt Creighton had at recovering the lead after they lost it midway through the first half.
Ponds, who was questionable to even play due to back tightness, started the game off slowly. He wasn’t his typical self; he missed shots at the rim, his stepback jumper had a hitch, and his offensive awareness seemed limited.
Then he caught fire. His passes were circus-like. His drives to the bucket were met with contact and he still managed to finish. It was vintage Shamorie and the Jays quickly began reeling at the thought.
Creighton fed Martin Krampelj early in the ballgame. This tactic was met with a great deal of success, forcing St. John’s to respect the Slovenian Slammer. This opened up the perimeter for the Jays, which was met with a great deal of failure.
Using a 14-3 run midway through the second half, the Johnnies gained complete control of the game. Using the sold-out crowd at Carnesecca as fuel, the Johnnies managed to force a bevvy of turnovers and got their stroke of luck with the cold-shooting Jays.
The Johnnies had a 39-34 lead at half. A Mintz three with 16 minutes left would close the gap to one single point at 42-41 in favor of the Johnnies. About a minute and change later Justin Simon cashed a three to give St. John’s a nine point lead.
They never looked back after that.
It became comical in the latter half of the second slice of this ballgame as Davion Mintz, while falling out of bounds on a defensive rebound under the rim, attempted to throw a ball off of LJ Figueroa. Figueroa caught the pass, laid it in, and Mintz attempted to in-bound, only to have it stolen by Ponds, who clanged a three, only for Figueroa to grab the offensive board and lay it in.
Mintz and Ponds got into a shit-talking match, which only added fuel to the raging fire that the Johnnies already had. Mustapha Heron finished an and-one with 1:55 left to ice the game with a 14 point lead. It only grew after than, and, with 1:14 left McDermott emptied his bench and Jordan Scurry waltzed onto the floor as the proverbial white flag waved depressingly over the Creighton bench.
Ponds was absolutely magnificent in his return, yet it was a complete team effort by the Johnnies as Heron, Figueroa, and Justin Simon finished with 15+ points.