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St. John's bounces back to beat Sonoma State, 64-46

Yankuba Sima had a monster afternoon.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Don't break out the panic meter just yet.

It wasn't perfect by any stretch but St. John's rebounded from their 32-point defeat to St. Thomas Aquinas with a much-needed confidence building win over Division II Sonoma State, 64 to 46, on Saturday at Carnesecca Arena.

Yankuba Sima was the most impressive player for the Johnnies as he scored 16 points, shot 56 percent from the field, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked eight shots. Federico Mussini scored five points while Christian Jones followed up his strong opening outing to score 13 points and grab 11 rebounds.

Elijah Holifield, seven points, provided energy and effective defense off the bench along with Ron Mvouika, six points, and Darien Williams, six points.

The Johnnies were once again without Marcus LoVett (knee), who ditched the crutches that he emerged with before the first preseason match-up. Felix Balamou (injury) and Kassoum Yakwe (eligibility) also were inactive for the second straight game.

St. John's came out of the gate with more intensity defensively and limited their turnovers (eight) against the Seawolves' full court pressure in the first half. The Red Storm went to the free throw line 21 times (86 percent) in the opening half and found better shots (43 percent) with improved spacing.

Durand Johnson, seven points on 3-for-9 shooting, struggled for the second straight game. The Pittsburgh transfer picked up his second foul with 12:34 left in the opening frame and didn't score his first basket until their was 16 minutes remaining.

Meanwhile, Sima was easily the best player on the floor as he helped the Johnnies outscore Sonoma State 26 to 12 in the paint. The 6'11" freshman showed an assortment of post moves, using both hands and a nice drop step to finish around the rim. The big man also used his NBA-like length to alter multiple shots and make up for the lack of speed defensively on the perimeter.

While the Red Storm still turned the ball over 18 times and only hit one three pointer, they looked more comfortable running their sets and making the right passes.

Brandon Tillis, nine points, and James Davis, nine points, were the leading scorers for a Seawolves team that failed to knock down their shots consistently, 22 percent from the field and 12 percent from downtown.