To be frank, this was one of the Red Storm’s most disturbing performances this season, despite the 85-71 win over Mount St. Mary’s. The Johnnies improve to 8-0 on the season, and face Princeton in the Holiday Classic on Sunday in Madison Square Garden.
Against a Mount St. Mary’s team that came in 0-7, with 10-point losses to Loyola-Maryland, Morgan State and and a 14-point loss North Carolina A&T, the Red Storm trailed for over eight minutes, and were within two possession of their opponent for all but seven minutes.
Against a Mount team starting a freshman who had scored 0, 8, 2, 2, and 0 points, that freshman, Dee Barnes, went off for an early career high of 26 points.
Against a Mount team filled with freshmen and sophomores, the Johnnies settled for threes, struggled with a zone, and allowed the Mount to spread the floor, get free for threes, and look like a legitimately strong squad.
In the first half, the Mount patiently waited through switching St. John’s defenders to get open perimeter shots. The flow was fast and loose for both teams... but the beauty of basketball is that for reasonably talented players, that means both teams can get comfortable.
Once comfortable, Mount gave the Red Storm all they could handle. Marvin Clark, however, kept pace in a hot stretch, totaling 14 points in the first half to fend off two Mount St. Mary’s players who combined for 27 — Jalen Gibbs (who finished with 16 points), and Dee Barnes, who was certainly not on our scouting report.
Finally, with about eight minutes left, Marvin Clark drove for a layup, Justin Simon caught an alley-oop running the baseline, and then Shamorie Ponds’ penetration opened things up for a pair of threes from Simon and Mustapha Heron. It was part of an 8-2 run that gave the Red Storm a little bit of cushion.
Mount St. Mary’s may be 0-8, but they have a lot to take from this game. They shot 48% from outside the arc in the first half before falling off. Freshman walk-on Damian Chong Qui also added 10 points as a starter.
And St. John’s may be 8-0, but this was an all-around uncomfortable game.
- Marvin Clark II led the team with 2x points and three total rebounds (two defensive)
- Mustapha Heron added 17
- Justin Simon had 14 points, 7 assists
- LJ Figueroa added 13 points and 11 rebounds (10 defensive)
- Shamorie Ponds had 11 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds