For one game, everything was better, and last year’s struggles faded into the rear view for Chris Mullin and St. John’s.
With an explosive effort on offense coming from the guards, St. John’s blew out the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats by a score of 100-53. The Red Storm’s largest margin of victory last year was a 22-point win over Maryland-Baltimore County, and even the likes of Wagner, Niagara and Division II Chaminade were struggles.
Not tonight, as the team looked decent from the outset and sharp once the bench guards set foot on the floor.
The Red Storm started slow, looking to Bashir Ahmed, whose shots were not falling early. On the other side, Bethune Cookman took advantage of the Red Storm defense going under screens to hit a trio of threes.
The defense settled down, and Federico Mussini set foot on the floor, hit a three that bounced off the rim and softly fell in, and the Johnnies never looked back. A Marcus LoVett personal 8-0 run late in the first half put the game out of reach, and a 16-2 run to start the second half ripped the advantage wide into garbage time.
Federico Mussini led the team with 20 (going 5/6 from outside the arc and 5/6 from the free throw line) and Marcus LoVett had 19 in the game. LoVett led the team with seven assists. Tariq Owens had four rebounds, tying Ahmed for the team lead, and five blocks. Ahmed had seven on 3/8 shooting.
Malik Ellison added 11, as did Yankuba Sima.
Bethune-Cookman was led by Quinton Forrest’s 12 and Diamante Lewis’ 10 points. Lewis also had seven rebounds.
St. John’s will be back in action on Monday night against the Binghamton Bearcats.
The team started a lineup of Tariq Owens, Yankuba Sima, Shamorie Ponds, Malik Ellison and Bashir Ahmed. But ten players found time in the first half on their way to hitting 64% of interior shots in the half, scoring 1.30 points per possession.
Over the course of the game, St. John’s scored 1.51 points per game, dropping 53 points in the second half, while holding Bethune-Cookman to 0.83 points per game. The Red Stotm shot 11/22 (50%) on three-pointers and 71% inside the arc - helped along by LoVett-assisted dunks from Tariq Owens and Yankuba Sima.
The Johnnies had 11 turnovers and 19 assists, while forcing 18 turnovers from the Wildcats.
Bethune Cookman did have 23 offensive rebounds (45% of their missed shots), which is not a promising number.
Shamorie Ponds had eight points in his debut, with three assists and three rebounds - flashing some quick defensive hands along the way.
Richard Freudenberg went scoreless but had three rebounds and three assists. Kassoum Yakwe had seven points off the bench. Amar Alibegovic had four, including a nice offensive put back slam after setting a screen for LoVett in the first half.
Darien Williams and Elijah Holifield each added two points in garbage time.