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St. John’s blows out Columbia 82-63

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A strong early start earned a big lead early

Wendell Cruz

The Red Storm’s up-and-down pace ran the Columbia Lions out of gym and back to Manhattan, 82-63.

The difference in athleticism between St. John’s and Columbia powered the Red Storm past the Lions. The Johnnies were constantly in the paint and near the basket, getting there with relative ease.

At times early on, there was indecision as to whether they wanted to go up with the ball or kick it back out, which led to multiple layups clanging off the side of the rim after the ballhandler pivoted around a couple times, threw up several unconvincing ball fakes, and brought the ball down to their waist.

Rasheem Dunn, however, carried a calligraphy of craftiness into Carnesecca against Columbia. Dunn was constantly in the paint, regularly made the right basketball play, and finished the half with 14 points (4/7 FG, 1/1 3PT) and three steals to go along with a board and an assist.

On the other end of the court, Columbia struggled with the length and athleticism of the Red Storm.

The Lions looked as if they needed to keep going full speed to keep up with St. John’s at half speed. The Johnnies looked to pressure their ballhandlers and contested every shot. When the Red Storm looked to trap on the perimeter, the Lions were able to find the open man and knock down an open three, but opportunities were few and far between, given the Lions’ 11 turnovers.

Wendell Cruz

Led by Dunn — and 10 offensive rebounds, and the turnovers forced — the Red Storm went into the half up, 49-27.

Columbia opened the second half with a 7-0 run, but that was the last sign of life from the Lions.

The beautiful simplicity of Julian Champagnie’s game was on full display in the second half. Champagnie never forced his shot in the half, played within himself, and was always in the right spot. After the break, his quality played resulted in bulk traditional stats, as he put up nine points on 4/6 from the floor, in addition to grabbing three rebounds.

Offensively in the half, the goal appeared to get everyone involved within the context of the usual offense. Damien Sears was getting designed looks on the block, Nick Rutherford got extended time operating the offense, and Greg Williams, Jr. had the ball late in a few possessions (and hit a clock-beating three).

Defensively, the Red Storm looked good on two fronts.

Firstly, St. John’s was able to run Columbia off the three-point line when the defense did not trap.

Second, the Red Storm’s relentless pace on both end of the court had the Lions looking gassed soon after the half started.

Walk-ons Justin Cole and Thomas O’Connell got some run for the last minute or so, and that was it with the Johnnies winning, 82-63.

St. John’s heads to Mohegan Sun Arena in Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut to try their luck in the two-game Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament and open against the Sun Devils of Arizona State on Saturday at 2:30 PM. The winner faces the winner of Virginia/ Massachusetts.

St. John’s Red Storm

Mustapha Heron: 15 points (5/10 FG, 2/3 3PT), 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers

Rasheem Dunn: 14 points (4/11 FG, 1/2 3PT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover

Julian Champagnie: 14 points (6/13 FG, 1/2 3PT), 7 rebounds

Columbia Lions

Mike Smith: 20 points (8/16 FG, 3/4 3PT), 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 turnover