St. John’s played host to one of the hottest teams in the country at the moment as the Monmouth Hawks rolled into Carnesecca Arena for a Thursday night clash against the Red Storm. The Hawks entered the game riding a seven game win streak that began following their season opener loss to the Charlotte 49ers. Over the span of this streak they defeated the likes of Cincinnati, Saint Joseph’s, and Princeton.
Thursday night though that streak came to an end as St. John’s managed to hold off a late surge by Monmouth for an 88 to 83 win. It was an exciting game as both teams came to play tonight as St. John’s were looking to build on their reformed success that they had against Fordham last Sunday, whereas as Monmouth were looking to continue to ride their hot start. In the end it was St. John’s walking out of the gym with the win clipping the high flying Hawks’ wings as the Johnnies are finding new life with their reforming ways on the floor.
Still, the Hawks were no pushover. This match up had potential upset written all over it, and Monmouth’s play is certainly going to win plaudits over the remainder of the season. The Johnnies did an excellent job at limiting George Papas, Monmouth’s leading scorer, to just 2-of-12 shooting. That seemed to mend Monmouth’s offense though the Red Storm did accept the fact that they could not completely stop the Hawks in their tracks as erstwhile Big East player Shavar Reynolds posted a 25 point game on 10-of-18 shooting while Marcus McClary posted a 14 point game and Walker Miller had a 13 point night. The play of Reynolds was a sight to behold, as it appeared for a good portion of the game he was carrying Monmouth offensively, with some deadly three point shooting finishing with a mark of 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.
St. John’s though had enough in the chamber to match Monmouth offensively. Once again, Posh Alexander took control of things early on with some stellar ball movement and shooting. He had a 21 point game on 7-of-14 shooting and 7-of-8 from the foul line. He was not the main distributor of the ball though, as Dylan Addae-Wusu has been fitting nicely in that position with a seven assist game and 11 points on the score sheet. Both Addae-Wusu and Alexander pair nicely on the court with each complementing each other’s roles and allowing for the both of them to tap into other areas of their game.
Oddly enough, Alexander’s best play of the night was not an offensive play but a defensive one where he slapped a ball back into play to bounce off a Monmouth player’s leg on a Monmouth inbound in the final seconds of the second half. The play killed the momentum that the Hawks were building for much of the latter portion of the second half and tipped the final balance for the Johnnies.
Two standout players for the Johnnies who provided excellent secondary scoring were Montez Mathis, who posted a 14 point game tonight on 5-of-10 shooting, provided an early scoring boost for the Red Storm, and Stef Smith who took the torch from Mathis to carry on the scoring options with a 13 point game as a rotational player.
Although he finished with 16 points, Julian Champagnie was largely quiet in stretches of the game. The Hawks had effectively kept the Red Storm’s best shooter at bay with only a 6-of-16 shooting on the game. He was active though in other ways with four rebounds, five assists, four steals, and three blocks quietly going about his work to contribute to a St. John’s win.
As a team, St. John’s tonight shot the ball at a rate of 47.8% from the floor, 33.3% from beyond the arc, and 72.0% from the foul line continuing a trend of poor to average foul shooting. They lost the battle on the boards with only 36 total rebounds to Monmouth’s 43 total rebounds.
St. John’s were able to once again reverse the tide on turnovers as well coughing up the ball only 12 times to Monmouth’s 18 turnovers. It seems that the changes Mike Anderson made are coming together.
With this game in the books, St. John’s move to 7-2 on the season and next up on the docket is a Sunday afternoon clash against the Colgate Raiders.