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St. John’s vs Seton Hall final: Johnnies hold off Pirates 78-70

A team effort.

Wendell Cruz

To borrow from the TV show Heroes: Stop Delgado, save the world?

This afternoon, St. John's was locked and loaded against the Seton Hall Pirates. No, it wasn't the prettiest game, especially in the first half, but the choppy game - and solid ball protection - earned St. John's the win 78-70.

St. John’s improves to 12-14 on the season and 6-7 in Big East play - good enough for fifth place in the conference. Seton Hall falls to 15-9 and 5-7 in Big East play.

The Johnnies, who next face Butler in Indianapolis, played better than expected, given the circumstances they were in.

Consider that St. John's hit three of 11 attempted threes, a staple of their offense.

Consider Malik Ellison, who spends much of his game defending the opponent's best player, was limited to five minutes.

Consider that big man Darien Williams was on the sideline in a walking boot.

Consider that Bashir Ahmed struggled early in the game.

The team held together against a bigger Seton Hall Pirates squad, finding some surprise contributors in a game that was expected to be a struggle.

In the first half, St. John's began by keeping Angel Delgado - the powerful forward who snagged 20 rebounds against St. John's in the two teams' first matchup in Newark - out of the paint.

But scoring was hard to come by, and the teams circled around each other, with Seton Hall committing turnovers and St. John's committing fouls. Until around when this happened.

Tariq Owens' defensive stop and thunderous dunk on the other end set the snowball in motion on a slushy day. Marcus LoVett hit a layup with 3:40 left and the Hall stumbled. Rushed transition opportunities and five turnovers in the rest of the half were part of a 16-3 run (in the last five minutes) and St. John's had the cushion they needed.

The second half saw Angel Delgado get some paint touches, but the Seton Hall mini-surge was battled back by a surprise seven-point burst from Amar Alibegovic, who scored a season-high in points on a three-pointer and two layups.

St. John's won, though, with solid interior defense from Kassoum Yakwe, who kept Delgado from deep position on defense.Coach Chris Mullin said that the first meeting was one of the red Storm's most selfish games. But today, on offense, the team shared the ball well - despite what the 11 assists on 28 made shots may indicate.

Marcus LoVett led the team with 19 points. Shamorie Ponds added 17. Bashir Ahmed added 11 and Tariq Owens added 10 with three blocks and 12 rebounds (six defensive, six offensive). LoVett added six assists. Kassoum Yakwe added eight points and three blocks.