In the first game of the Chris Mullin era, St. John's was dominated by Division II St. Thomas Aquinas, losing 90-58 at Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday night. Federico Mussini led the Johnnies in scoring with 16 points while Christian Jones was the first man off the bench and was the lone bright spot, adding 13 points, 11 boards, four steals and making multiple hustle plays on the defensive end of the floor.
The Johnnies looked sloppy, uncomfortable and lost offensively for most of the night (37 percent shooting overall and a whopping 28 turnovers!). Durand Johnson, one point on 0-of-7 from the field, couldn't follow up on his hot shooting performance from the Red and White Scrimmage and Ron Mvouika struggled mightily, scoring four points and turning the ball over five times. Darien Williams scored eight points and Yankuba Sima put up three points and was not much of a factor in the paint after the first couple of minutes.
St. John's did not have their full cast of players on Wednesday. Marcus LoVett, who seemed to hurt his lower leg during the Red and White Scrimmage, emerged from the tunnel with crutches and did not play. Felix Balamou (injury suffered on Saturday) and Kassoum Yakwe (eligibility up in the air) also were inactive.
The Red Storm were bothered by the Spartans full court pressure as they turned the ball over a total of 16 times in the opening half and trailed, 50-34, at the break. Mvouika and Malik Ellison, six turnovers on the night, had trouble in-bounding the ball on multiple occasions with Mussini failing to separate from Spartan defenders that were all over him.
When St. John's was able to get a shot off in the first half, they knocked down a respectable 46 percent, but were giving the Spartans wide open looks on the other end. St. Thomas Aquinas looked comfortable and in sync against the Johnnies man-to-man defense, hitting 62 percent from the field and 63 percent from downtown in the first half.
The second half the Red Storm's shooting percentage tanked to 26 percent and they were giving the Spartans plenty of room to shoot in rhythm along with getting beat off the bounce.
Chaz Walter, 18 points, Justin Reyes, 25 points, and James Mitchell, 13 points, led the Spartans in scoring. The team shot 48 percent from the field overall, 47 percent from three and only had 14 turnovers.