St. John's fights off run to defeat Wagner, 73-57, for first win of the season

John Alber

D'Angelo Harrison led all scorers with 25 points for the Red Storm.

St. John's has had very few "laughers" at its on-campus Carnesecca Arena in recent memory, and Friday served no differently.

As things once again got sweaty in the cozy Queens gym when underdog Wagner cut St. John's lead to 6 points with three minutes to play, the hurricane finally hit - not one in the familiar sense, but Sir`Dominic Pointer.

Pointer, who Steve Lavin compared to a hurricane for "being everywhere" on Thursday, came in for a big slam to re-extend the Johnnies lead to double figures, solidifying the team's first win of the 2013-14 season.

Though the Red Storm (1-1) led wire-to-wire in its 73-57 victory over the Wagner Seahawks on Friday, things weren't as easy as they could have been. St. John's had to fight off a pesky run from Bashir Mason's squad in the final minutes after leading by as many as 18 points.

D`Angelo Harrison led all scorers with 25 points on 7-16 shooting, as JaKarr Sampson added 13 points and Pointer joined the two in double figures with 10.

[BOXSCORE]

"We made progress in all the areas that needed to be addressed coming off the Wisconsin loss," Lavin said.  "I thought we were effective in moving the feet without fouling, as well as using our speed and athleticism."

Unlike the season opener against Wisconsin, St. John's ran out to a quick 10-3 lead on Wagner early on. Both Harrison and Orlando Sanchez (8 points) were assertive on both ends of the floor, setting the tone for the Red Storm, who was seeking its first win.

In fact, Harrison seemed to be on a mission from the moment the game began. Within 7 minutes, he was in double figures and was making things happen on the defensive side as well.

"The guys do a great job of swinging the ball," Harrison said. "It seemed that every one of my buckets were off an extra pass."

Easy looks came early and often for the Johnnies, as they carved through the Seahawks' defense. The Johnnies shot 18% higher from the field than Wagner before halftime.

The Red Storm's slow start a week ago against Wisconsin was aided much by its uncharacteristic 10 first half turnovers. Just three giveaways in the first half on Friday catapulted St. John's into control with a 36-22 lead at intermission.

The first four minutes of the second half was a completely different story for Wagner, as the Seahawks cut St. John's lead to single digits. The intensity that the Johnnies came out with to start the game shifted to the other bench.

"I told my guys that there was no pressure on us," Bashir Mason mentioned. "If we kept making plays, we knew all of the pressure would be on [St. John's]."

Harrison stabilized St. John's in face of Wagner's run by scoring two crucial buckets and leading the fast break off Wagner turnovers.

Yet Bashir Mason's Wagner squad, who has been projected to win its Northeast Conference this season, kept chipping away. The Seahawks were much more effective offensively in the second half, which aided their run to get back into the game.

I told my guys that there was no pressure on us. If we kept making plays, we knew all of the pressure would be on [St. John's]. -Bashir Mason, postgame

"There were just some missed assignments [in the second half]," Harrison said. "It's definitely something we have to continue to work on."

A Jay Harris conversion from downtown cut St. John's lead to just 6 points with just over three minutes to play. But, thanks to Pointer's night-saving theatrics, St. John's was able to stave off Wagner for its first win.

Wagner pulled a page out of the Johnnies' book, as the Seahawks recorded 8 team blocks. Chris Obekpa, the nation's leading shot blocker from a year ago, added 4 blocks of his own.

Wagner made 5 of its 7 three-pointers after halftime. St. John's issues in that department continue to be a serious concern, as Lavin's Johnnies shot a miserable 0-10 from deep on Friday.

Freshman Rysheed Jordan went scoreless in his first home game with St. John's.

"I've never had a freshman who didn't have a steep learning curve," Lavin said.  "I'm still very impressed with Rysheed's progress.  I think he will have a really strong freshman year."

Latif Rivers led Wagner with 18 points, with Harris (14) and Kenneth Ortiz (10) also scoring in double figures for the Seahawks.

St. John's will next be in action on Tuesday, when the Red Storm will welcome Bucknell to Carnesecca Arena.

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