After two underwhelming performances in scrimmages against Rhode Island and Maryville, St. John’s came out with a hounding intensity that displayed why they have received national attention.
St. John’s came out and aggressively on the defensive end, forced 13 turnovers, and held Loyola to 5/20 from the field with no made three-pointers.
Unfortunately, with aggressive defense came cheap fouls that piled up for the Red Storm in the first half. St. John’s committed 14 fouls in the first half. Foul trouble for Justin Simon and Sedee Keita held the pair to only 7 minutes and 4 minutes, respectively, in the first half.
Fortunately, with foul trouble came the opportunity for Coach Mullin to accentuate one of his team’s new strengths: depth. St. John’s played 9 players in the first half, and they were not simply filler minutes. Greg Williams Jr. saw some time, and made a fast break layup.
To cap off a quality first half, Shamorie Ponds banked in a deep three at the buzzer to put St. John’s up 48-23 going into the half.
The second half began like the first half ended with St. John’s quickly increasing their lead. Simon quickly picked up his third and fourth fouls, and LJ Figueroa was involved as a passer and dunker on a couple of alley-oops.
Much like the first half, St. John’s aggressive defense resulted in some cheap fouls causing Keita to foul out with only 10 minutes of play and Simon to dial it back some finishing with 4 fouls.
Coach Mullin called off the dogs when his Red Storm amassed a 72-48 lead with under 4 minutes remaining, and gave the freshmen some game action.
In garbage time, Simon, Mikey Dixon, Williams, Marcellus Earlington, and Josh Roberts got to be the ones to finish the game. Roberts gave Red Storm Nation a beautiful block before St. John’s finished with a win, 76-55.
St. John’s Red Storm
Shamorie Ponds: 20 Points (9/15 FG, 2/7 3PT), 2 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Turnovers
Mustapha Heron: 15 Points (5/10 FG, 2/2 3PT), 7 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 1 Turnover
Mikey Dixon: 13 Points (4/9 FG, 2/3 3PT), 1 Assist, 1 Turnover
Andrew Kostecka: 17 Points (4/12 FG, 0/2 3PT), 5 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 5 Turnovers
Chuck Champion: 12 Points (3/9 FG, 1/4 3PT), 5 Rebounds, 4 Turnovers