Much like last year's exhibition against St. Mary's (MD), St. John's received a strenuous test from Division II Sonoma State on Saturday night.
The Red Storm defeated the Seawolves, 73-55, in a battle that was considerably closer than the score might indicate. Amir Garrett and Phil Greene led the Johnnies with 17 points each, while JaKarr Sampson added 14.
This first of two exhibitions was the first opportunity for St. John's fans to see the program's newcomers. Sampson, Christian Jones, and Chris Obekpa each played their first significant minutes under Steve Lavin.
The Johnnies took just a four-point lead (37-33) into the locker room at halftime, but were able to wear down an inferior Sonoma State team coached by Pat Fuscaldo, who was a graduate assistant at San Francisco state when Lavin played there in the early 1980's.
D`Angelo Harrison played just 14 minutes for the Johnnies, only scoring 5 points on 1-5 shooting. After he collected his fourth foul of the game early in the second half, the coaching staff elected not to have him return.
Guard Patrick Scott led the Seawolves with 22 points on 5-13 shooting. Forward Ryan Stanley was the only other Sonoma State player in double figures with 13.
Marco Bourgault and Orlando Sanchez did not suit up for St. John's, as they still await an NCAA ruling regarding their classification status. Their academic eligibility is not in question, and it is uncertain whether they will be available for next week's opener against Detroit.
God'sgift Achiuwa also did not play for the Red Storm. It is speculated that the senior forward may elect to redshirt this season, which would make him eligible next year. A new NCAA rule states that no player can play a single minute in any game (including an exhibition) and still redshirt. No official decision has been made.
The Rumble will soon have some takeaways and quotes from Saturday's exhibition win over Sonoma State.