There were warts and there were struggles, but a 22-2 run for the St. John’s Red Storm salted away the game against the Division II Molloy Lions on Monday night. St. John’s coasted to a 71-43 victory over Molloy, despite an ugly first half of basketball.
St. John’s improves to 4-0, largely due to their defense; Molloy falls to 1-4 on the season.
St. John’s shot just 36% from the floor in the first half, including 1-for-13 shooting from deep. St. John’s was sluggish in the first half, with a mix of overly flashy attempts and less-intense defense helping to keep the Lions in the game.
“We played too [relaxed],” said forward Marvin Clark II, “and that starts with the leadership. I take full responsibility.”
Poor shot selection, in addition to Molloy’s great discipline in the paint didn’t help the Red Storm’s cause.
The epitome of the first half? Bashir Ahmed bobbled a perfect pass for an alley-oop, as the crowd continued to watch in disbelief.
Molloy led by as much as five with eight minutes left in the first half, but an 8-0 run by Shamorie Ponds, Marvin Clark II and Amar Alibegovic put the Red Storm on top to stay.
The Red Storm went into halftime with a 28-21, with Molloy struggling to shoot the ball. Active hands helped create 11 points off turnovers in the half, though Shamorie Ponds, Bashir Ahmed and Tariq Owens combined for 4-for-20 shooting.
The second half was entirely different, however, as it actually featured a Division I school facing a Division II school. St. John’s defense took a tremendous leap as the Red Storm would open up the half on a 28-4 run.
The game ended with walk-ons Justin Cole and Jay Camus (pronounced “Came-us”, not like the French writer) got a couple of minutes.
St. John’s shooting also improved with the defense, as Ponds (14 points) finally began to see the bottom of the net. Marvin Clark added 10 points, helping lead the charge in the second. Justin Simon had team highs on the glass and in the passing department, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 9 assists. Overall, St. John’s shot 59% from the field in the second half.
Bashir Ahmed’s ability to get to the free throw line helped him get out of his shooting slump, finishing the game with 14 points.
Perhaps most impressive, St. John’s sent Molloy to the line for just six free throw attempts.
On the other side, Molloy’s backcourt of Curtis Jenkins and Nick Corbett had combined for 16 of the Lions’ 21 points in the first half. In the second, they were stifled.
The Red Storm will travel to Orlando, FL to participate in the AdvoCare Invitational for Thanksgiving. They kickoff the action against Oregon State on Nov. 23rd at 2:00 PM on Thanksgiving in Orlando, watchable on ESPNU.