St. John’s left the first test of the season with a loud, crowd-pleasing answer. Carnesecca Arena was deafening as St. John’s secured a 79-56 win over Nebraska.
St. John’s was led by Shamorie Ponds’ 22 points, with balanced help and a strong defensive effort that held Nebraska to 10/31 inside the arc and 6/26 outside.
The Red Storm looked noticeably better defensively, largely in part because of the efforts of Tariq Owens. The 6-foot-11 forward set the tone early with great rim protection, finishing the game with a game-high six blocks.
St. John’s held the Cornhuskers to just 30% shooting overall and forced 11 turnovers in the first half. In addition to Owens’s shot blocking, the guards ability to play the passing lanes provided for great opportunities in transition.
The other side of the floor was host to the magic of Shamorie Ponds. His play energized an already animated crowd, finishing the game with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists, carrying the St. John’s offense throughout.
Despite the lack of height, the Red Storm dominated the paint, outscoring Nebraska 44-16 inside. They also won the battle of the boards on a night in which they got solid contributions from both Owens and Kassoum Yakwe.
The first half of action saw a lot of missed shots by both sides, and despite a the Red Storm leading throughout, Nebraska nearly gained an ounce of momentum after a four-point play in the first half. However, any momentum they may have gained was crushed by a buzzer-beating Marcus LoVett (14 points) layup to end the half.
St. John’s stepped on the throat of Nebraska and blew this one open in the second half. The crowd loved every bit of St. John’s grit, and perhaps no sequence was a better showcase than late in the game as the Red Storm put the final nail in the coffin with back-to-back alley oops.
James Palmer Jr. led the Huskers with 13 points. Justin Simon added 13 points and 12 rebounds.
The Big East is 3-3 against the Big Ten at the conclusion of the St. John’s game, with Xavier and Wisconsin as the nightcap in Madison.
Next for the Johnnies is a contest against Division II Molloy on Monday evening, before next week’s bracketed Advocare Invitational Tournament in Orlando over Thanksgiving.