After an easy win against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, St. John’s traveled down to Miami to play the defensively stingy Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech was anything but easy, however, the Red Storm find a way to win late, 76-73.
St. John’s brought the heat to Miami to start the contest, going up 8 just after the 12 minute mark. By starting their offense behind the NBA three-point line, the Red Storm spaced Georgia Tech’s defense leading to early finishes at the bucket and trips to the free throw line.
However, after earning their 8-point lead, the Red Storm stopped going to the basket, stopped moving the ball, and consequently, stopped winning. St. John’s shot 3 of 10 from beyond the arc, many of which were shot from behind the NBA three-point line, and only accumulated 3 assists by halftime.
Soon after St. John’s stopped doing what was working so well, Georgia Tech went on a 14-0 run to regain the lead.
A large part of the Yellow Jackets’ offensive success came on the back of James Banks III. The 6’8” junior big man thrived on the block and at the basket scoring 10 first half points shooting 3 of 3 from the field and 4 of 6 from the free throw line.
As a result, St. John’s went into the half down 38-29.
The second half did not start much better than the first half ended for the Red Storm. The Red Storm defense honed in on preventing Banks from scoring for the Yellow Jackets, which opened up the scoring for the rest of Georgia Tech.
While Justin Simon put together a quality second half, Georgia Tech seemed to have a counter-punch for everything St. John’s did.
Despite Georgia Tech determining the pace and dominating on defense for a majority of the game, the Red Storm found a way to battle back. After New York City locals Shamorie Ponds and Jose Alvarado got into it earning double technicals, Ponds put on his cape and started making the hero plays. After the technicals, St. John’s went on a 21-10 run.
St. John’s fought their way back into the game, in large part thanks to getting to the free throw line and uncompromising defense. St. John’s shot 26 free throws in the second half, almost three times as many as they did in the first. Simultaneously, the Red Storm held the Yellow Jackets to 2 of 13 from beyond the arc in the second half, putting St. John’s in a position to come back from a 16 point deficit.
With just under 4 minutes to go, Ponds knocked down a pair of free throws to give St. John’s its first lead of the second half.
After acquiring the lead, St. John’s wins the grinding free-throw competition to seal the victory, 76-73.
St. John’s Red Storm
Shamorie Ponds: 37 Points (10/17 FG, 4/7 3PT), 5 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 2 Turnovers
Justin Simon: 13 Points (3/8 FG), 7 Rebounds, 1 Assist
LJ Figueroa: 13 Points (5/15 FG, 0/6 3PT), 2 Rebounds, 1 Assist
Jose Alvarado: 17 Points (5/15 FG, 0/6 3PT), 3 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Turnovers
James Banks III: 14 Points (5/5 FG), 12 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 3 Turnovers