Just over 24 hours after Seton Hall upset Kentucky at Madison Square Garden, St. John’s took on Princeton. After a quality second half adjustment, St. John’s dominant defense sealed a 89-74 victory for St. John’s.
Coach Mullin shook up the starting lineup starting Mikey Dixon, Greg Williams Jr., and Bryan Trimble Jr. over the usual Marvin Clark II, LJ Figueroa, and Justin Simon, which Coach Mullin simply described as a “coaching decision.”
The altered lineup did not get into a great rhythm before the first media timeout, leading only 10-8 before the benched trio of Clark, Figueroa, and Simon checked in soon thereafter.
The Red Storm came into the Princeton game allowing opponents to shoot 36% from deep, 269th nationally. St. John’s poor perimeter defense continued against the Tigers, as Princeton shot just under 53% from three in the first half.
Particularly, St. John’s was not successful to containing Princeton guard Devin Cannady, who scored 15 in the first half with all 15 coming from beyond the arc.
Offensively, St. John’s capitalized off of quality contributions of several players on the floor, as the Red Storm scored 41 first half points without a single player getting to double digits in points. Clark and Figueroa led the team in first half points with 9 a piece, with Shamorie Ponds and Dixon scoring 8 points and 7 points, respectively.
Despite the poor perimeter defense and lack of a dominant offensive performance, the Red Storm went into halftime leading 41-38.
While St. John’s did come out of the half sluggishly, the Red Storm began forcing turnovers and scoring in transition. Clark forced a steal and threw down a dunk, followed by Heron tossing a behind-the-back pass to Ponds, only to be followed by Ponds scoring off of his own steal.
St. John’s cleaned up much of the perimeter defense, albeit with notable stretches of lapses, holding Princeton to 4 of 14 from deep in the second half. Noteably, Cannady was held to 1 of 6 from the field in the second half, going 1 of 6 from three over that period.
Aside from forcing turnovers, the Red Storm benefited from quality ball movement in the second half, as St. John’s racked up an assist on half of all the made field goals over that period.
The chaos helped the the Red Storm go on a 10-0 run prior just prior to the 11 minute mark, extending their lead to 14 points.
From there, the Red Storm tolerated a momentary back-and-forth with the Tigers before going on another 6-0 run extending the team lead to 17.
Princeton, with the help of a 10-0 run of their own, tightened the the game to 6 points. However, Ponds, as he so often has, was key in denying Princeton the victory with strong contributions from the rest of the team.
Ponds led the way in the second half with 18 second half points, followed by Figueroa with 8 second half points.
The Red Storm closed out the game by holding Princeton scoreless over the final three minutes, sealing the 89-74 victory for St. John’s.
St. John’s Red Storm
Shamorie Ponds: 26 Points (11/18 FG, 1/4 3PT), 5 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 5 Turnovers
LJ Figueroa: 17 Points (8/12 FG, 0/2 3PT), 8 Rebounds, 1 Turnover
Marvin Clark II: 13 Points (4/6 FG, 1/2 3PT), 8 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 2 Turnovers
Devin Cannady: 18 Points (6/14 FG, 6/13 3PT), 4 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 5 Turnovers
Jaelin Llewellyn: 17 Points (7/16 FG, 3/7 3PT), 1 Rebound, 4 Assist, 4 Turnovers