St. John's squeaks by NJIT Highlanders, 57-49

Anthony Gruppuso

A tough game from a surprising opponent.

Boxscore

That was much more of a nail-biter than any St. John's fan could have imagined.

At the half, St. John's was down 35-23 to a NJIT Highlanders from the Great West Conference. Halftime adjustments closed the gap, but a late surge was still needed for St. John's to pull out the 57-49 home victory in the Saturday afternoon game.

The Red Storm was down by as much as 14 to the Highlanders.

The team was led by a double-double from JaKarr Sampson - 15 points and 17 rebounds, with 2 blocked shots - and 21 points from D`Angelo Harrison. Amir Garrett grabbed 9 rebounds.

The final score would have been larger but for 11/29 shooting from the foul line. Garrett shot 0/8 from the free throw line, and Harrison shot 5/9 from the line.

Chris Obekpa added 5 blocks, 6 rebounds, and a driving score that solidified the lead with 3:26 left in the second half. The Red Storm grabbed 15 offensive rebounds in the second half and got into the bonus early.

NJIT was led by 16 points from Ryan Woods - 11 in the first half. He added 8 rebounds. Terrence Smith added 10 points and 10 rebounds; Chris Flores scored 10.

The Highlanders came to Carnesecca with a lot of energy and smart play, and St. John's struggled to find their offensive rhythm all game. The Highlanders stayed in a zone, protecting the painted area despite not bringing much size to the contest.

It worked well; St. John's scored a woeful .65 points per possession (around 1 ppp is decent), turned the ball over 7 times, shot 1/7 from beyond the arc, and found real difficulties in getting the ball close to the rim as they would have liked. St. John's played flat, lacked defensive energy, and lost their shooters both in transition and in the half court.

Next for St. John's will be San Francisco, a 10PM Tuesday night road game shown on SNY.

Notes:

  • Christian Jones did not play. No word on why yet.
  • Phil Greene was held scoreless.
  • Steve Lavin wore jeans - apparently due to a wardrobe malfunction involving his pants, per St. John's Twitter.
  • The team flies to San Francisco tonight.
  • Play stopped for an eight minute break about 7 minutes in to the game for a clock malfunction.

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