With Marcus LoVett still out due to an ankle injury, Shamorie Ponds once again spearheaded St. John’s offense in a 90-62 win over the rival Fordham Rams. Ponds finished with a game- and career-high 26 points on 9/13 shooting from the floor. He also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out nine assists throughout the game.
St. John’s improves to 5-5 on the season, while Fordham drops to 5-5.
Revenge (for last year’s breaches of blowout protocol) looks a bit like this: walk-on Elijah Holifield nailed a three to bring the Red Storm’s scoring squarely to 90 points in a game where the visiting Fordham Rams led once and the lead never dipped below 10 points in the second half.
The Red Storm got off to a hot start from behind the line (5-for-8), moving the ball and finding the open man for the three.
However, as the shooting cooled down, the offense began to stagnate and forced shots were taken. St. John’s would go without a field goal for four minutes and saw their 11-point lead shrink to one as the Rams scored on four of their next five shots.
The crowd grew quiet as the first half drew to a nervous close until Shamorie Ponds hit a contested three that sent him crashing to the floor with 33 seconds left. The next possession, the Johnnies would get a stop and Mussini would leave the defense in the dust finishing through the contact for a layup (and a foul) at the buzzer. The five-point swing would give St. John’s a 42-33 point lead at the half and enough momentum to regain control of the game.
Keeping the Rams around was the shooting of Chris Sengfelder (20 points in the game) and Prokop Slanina (9 points) who combined for 6-for-10 shooting from three in the first half. Although the lights out shooting of the duo would continue, the Red Storm quickly stepped on the gas coming out of the break and never looked back.
At the 17:26 mark in the second half, Shamorie Ponds hit a big three while drawing a foul. Moments later, Ponds dished a gorgeous assist to Ahmed and the Red Storm’s lead grew out of reach for the Rams. Mussini would then tack on a couple of threes, finishing with 20 off the bench, giving St. John’s a healthy lead that would remain in tact until the end.
The Red Storm did a good job of getting to the line early on and showed great signs of maturity on offense. However, in the absence of LoVett, they also saw a few offensive droughts in which players tried to do too much and create for themselves rather than sticking to the offense. They also took 31 threes in the game, more than half of their total shots (55 FGs attempted), which is why their success seems to rely on how well they shoot from deep.
Ponds came into the game averaging 20 points per game on 61% shooting over St. John’s last two victories. And tonight, he proved himself to be the lead guard the Red Storm needed to fully demolish the neighbors from the Bronx.
Tariq Owens got the start and blocked four shots while adding 10 points. Amar Alibegovic led the team with eight rebounds off the bench, all defensive. Bashir Ahmed scored 11 with six rebounds, and Malik Ellison, who also started, chipped in nine points, three rebounds and four assists.