If St. John’s Wednesday night loss to Arizona State in the First Four was the end of Shamorie Ponds’ collegiate career, all that can be said is that Ponds deserved so much better.
The junior guard recorded 25 of the Red Storm’s 65 points in their 74-65 loss, and was the lone bright spot of an otherwise dreadful offensive night for the Johnnies, who head into the offseason after a bitterly disappointing season.
Arizona State was in control for the entirety of Wednesday’s game, leading by 10 with 10 minutes left in the first half, and getting the lead as high as 18 before St. John’s was able to chip away ever so slightly to head into the half down by 13.
The Red Storm had no answer for ASU freshman big man Luguentz Dort, who led the Sun Devils with 21 points and was a matchup nightmare. Forward Zylan Cheatham also had a big night, scoring 14 points and hauling in 10 rebounds.
To Ponds’ and LJ Figueroa’s credit, they helped the Red Storm ultimately get the deficit down to seven with three and a half minutes to go, but St. John’s couldn’t string together stops, and the comeback bid fell short. Figueroa ended up recording a double-double with 19 points (17 in the second half) and 10 rebounds.
Mustapha Heron had a very disappointing evening, going 1-12 from the field and recording just six points. Had Heron been able to contribute at his normal level, this game could have went differently.
This will be addressed more as we get deeper in the offseason, but we’ve now seen four full seasons with Chris Mullin as head coach of the Red Storm. Steve Lavin and St. John’s parted ways after five seasons. That’s something to keep in mind given each coach’s body of work so far.
Arizona State will advance to the Round of 64 and play Buffalo on Friday.