In their season debut at Madison Square Garden, the Red Storm searched for their fourth win in five games, trying to work their way back to .500. However, despite a decent start to the game up 24-17, St. John’s collapsed. Penn State pummeled the Red Storm, 92-76.
It was a sloppy start for both teams as they combined for seven turnovers early on and shot 7-for-25 from the floor. However, St. John’s would take an early lead with the help of Malik Ellison and Richard Freudenberg. After a 7-0 run by Penn State, the game would be tied. At the 7:13 mark, St. John’s would lose their lead, and then some.
Penn State would go on to close the first half on a 35-5 run with the help of Shep Garner’s 15 points and Payton Banks’ 14 points. St. John’s would go almost 10 minutes without a field goal made. The offensive drought saw LoVett—returning from injury—get called for a 5-second violation coming out of a timeout. Later in the second half, the Johnnies would also be on the wrong end of a shot clock violation, coming out of another timeout.
The Red Storm shot just 4-for-14 from three in the first half, whereas Penn State shot 9-for-14. St. John’s also turned the ball over five more times. To cap things off in the half, a Tony Carr jumper at the buzzer would send the Red Storm down 52-29 into the break.
Among the bright spots in the early portion of the first half were Richard Freudenberg and Malik Ellison. Freudenberg hit an early three and dished a nice assist to a cutting Tariq Owens for a layup and a foul. Ellison would hit consecutive threes at the 9-minute mark to give St. John’s their biggest lead of the game at 24-17.
The Johnnies started the second half aggressively on defense, making things difficult for the Nittany Lions. Mullin’s squad implemented a full-court press in the second half, with the goal of creating turnovers. Although the Johnnies were able to force 13 turnovers in the second half, the halftime deficit was too much for the Johnnies to overcome.
Penn State’s offense was too much for St. John’s to handle in the second half, led by Junior guard Shep Garner’s 21 points.
Both teams finished with an abysmal 21 turnovers. However, Penn State was able to finish the game shooting 32-for-64, (50%) from the field. The Johnnies finished the game shooting 25-for-67, (37%) from the field.
As a team, the Johnnies were able to score 47 points in the 2nd half. Malik Ellison offensively had his best game of the season, finishing with 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting (5-for-6 from three).
Penn State’s ability to keep St. John’s from gaining momentum in the second half was primarily due to their 3-2 zone defense. St. John’s is going to have to do a much better job against the zone when they face state rival, Syracuse University at the Carrier Dome Wednesday night at 7PM.