Tonight’s 95-75 victory over the Tulane Green Wave on the road was a break in the storm clouds around the team. An explosive scoring performance started on the second possession for the Johnnies, when Shamorie Ponds started the scoring, and the team did not look back.
The Johnnies improve to 3-5 on the season and Tulane falls to 1-7.
St. John’s tied a school record with 16 three-pointers made on the night, with 11 of those coming in the first half. From there, the team cruised to the victory with little fanfare, scoring 1.32 points per possession (which is really efficient) and giving up 1.06 points/ possession.
Marcus LoVett had 18 points; Bashir Ahmed and Federico Mussini added 17. Shamorie Ponds had 15.
Bashir Ahmed had seven rebounds; Tariq Owens added six blocks on the night.
Tulane was paced by a career-high 17 from Ryan Smith and 15 points from Malik Morgan.
The Red Storm’s first possession was a patient one - so patient, that it ended in a shot clock violation. From there, the team started raining three-pointers, going 6/7 from beyond the arc in their next seven possessions.
The halftime cushion of 19 points (51-32) was threatened briefly by the 5-0 run made by Tulane to start the half. The Green Wave went inside to Ryan Smith for an easy layup. St. John’s followed with a poor drive by Bashir Ahmed for a turnover. In transition, a confused defense left Tulane scorer Cam Reynolds wide open and unguarded for a three, which he made.
Chris Mullin took a timeout.
And soon, order was restored. (Well, after a Kassoum Yakwe turnover.)
For the Johnnies, this is a needed win. The game allowed St. John’s to give some run to Malik Ellison (19 minutes), Kassoum Yakwe (17 minutes), Richard Freudenberg (13 minutes) and Amar Alibegovic (11 minutes) for much of the second half. All of those players need to get more comfortable on the court.
The results were mixed, with Freudenberg not yet aggressive, and Yakwe fouling out. But Ellison scored seven points, added four assists, looking like a credible part of the rotation. Alibegovic got to show his ability to drive, a willingness to defend, a positive attitude, and he added a three-pointer from the parking lot (figuratively) for good measure.
And while the first half results were solid, there are definitely holes in the defense. The second half - played as extended garbage time - saw Tulane score 1.24 points per possession, or about at the rate Delaware State scored against St. John’s over the course of the game last week.
St. John’s shot 49% inside the arc during the game, boosted by strong second half shooting; but in the first half, the big men still struggled with receiving the ball from the guards.
Still, it’s better to go home with a resounding win than leave with an L. The Red Storm assisted on 67% of made shots (22 assists versus the 33 field goals). The team shot 13/15 from the free throw line. The squad got to work on some of their fast-break offense, and got 22 points from the bench - a load of positives for the team.
St. John’s tackles Cal State Northridge on Monday night back at home in Queens.