Not a whole lot went right for the Red Storm in the first half. Luckily, they were able to regroup in the locker room and came out roaring for an impressive second half comeback that saw them promptly erase a 15-point halftime deficit, and eventually put themselves in the win column with a 53-47 victory.
It wasn't so much the Saint Mary's Gaels that were causing a problem, as it was Brad Waldow. The senior center was a force on the block, forcing Chris Obekpa into early foul trouble, and getting Joey De La Rosa on the court for a dozen minutes throughout the contest.
De La Rosa debuts
If there were ever the perfect night for De La Rosa to make his arrival, Friday night was it. With Obekpa having difficulty guarding, and staying out of trouble against Waldow and his wide array of moves on the block, De La Rosa's sheer size was almost a better matchup.
With 2:42 remaining in the contest, Obekpa would foul out. For the final 1:47, coach Lavin would turn duties of guarding the big man over to De La Rosa. Although he would play just 12 minutes, block two shots, and grab one rebound, it was the constant denial of the ball on Waldow that made his presence felt.
Remember, this was his first game of the season; there's a considerable curve between practice and D-I in-game basketball, especially against a player who was averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds a game heading in. Look for De La Rosa to keep contributing as the calendar turns to Big East play.
Total efficiency from Sir'Dominic Pointer
Sir'Dominic Pointer would have the most complete game of any Johnnie on the court Friday evening. He would play 39 minutes, yet only take five shots and still make an incredible impact on the game. His final stat line reads 11 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and a steal, but the energy he brought for literally the entire game was tremendous.
All 11 of his points would come in the second half, helping St. John's make their furious comeback. While the points were nice, his lockdown defense eliminated the threat of any member of the Gaels creating their own shot. Players not named Waldow would score just seven points in the second half for Saint Mary's.
The D'Angelo Show
By now, we recognize that D'Angelo Harrison is far from the typical point guard. So with that in mind, never mind his one assist and three turnovers. When he hit a three-pointer with 13:32 to go in the game to cut the Saint Mary's lead down to 37-33, the closest it had been since the opening minutes, Carnesecca Arena exploded like a shaken bottle of Pepsi.
In the same way, that's how Harrison played. He was faster than every member of the Gaels' backcourt and had his full arsenal on display. He'd finish the game with 21 points on 7-for-16 shooting, while going 2-for-5 from long range. He'd also lead the team in steals with three.
After a bit of a scare, the Johnnies can now recoup over the weekend before welcoming in the 49ers from Long Beach State. Similarly to how Brad Waldow was a one-man wrecking crew for Saint Mary's, Mike Caffey is the 49ers' version.
One slight difference: Caffey is a six-foot, 175-pound guard with no conscience. He will shoot from anywhere on the floor, and he'll be damned if he doesn't try to shoot his team into the NCAA Tournament later this year. Averaging 17.8 points per game coming in (already four games over the 20-point mark), when you see Caffey, you see some of Damian Lillard, who is currently in the midst of an All-Star season with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Tune in Monday night, December 22, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. as the Red Storm look for their 10th win of the season-before Christmas.