A strong second half and another dominant Mustapha Heron sighting helped the Red Storm to a win over Central Connecticut, 87-57.
St. John’s looks to add another win against the Wildcats of the University of New Hampshire on Tuesday at 7:00 PM in Carnesecca Arena.
After a 30-point victory over Mercer, St. John’s looked to do more of the same against the Central Connecticut Blue Devils. After the Mercer game, Coach Anderson noted that he wanted to used “this non-conference schedule to develop some depth.” With the Red Storm going up against Central Connecticut, who maintains the sixth-lowest KenPom rating this season, Anderson and the Red Storm looked to learn more about where its depth currently is.
St. John’s stormed out of the game with a little 7-0 run to go up 13-4 over the Blue Devils, but when Central Connecticut went into a 2-1-2 zone, the Johnnies struggled to move the ball and move without the ball. Outside of Mustapha Heron, the Red Storm scored 20 points on 9 of 29 from the field and 2 of 10 from deep.
To further complicate matters, the Red Storm were not able to force the necessary turnovers to get out in the open floor, and when they did force turnovers, they were unable to turn them into points. Central Connecticut turned the ball over five times before the break, and the Red Storm were only able to convert those turnovers into 2 points.
Mustapha and Josh Roberts, however, were brights spots for the Red Storm in the first half. Heron poured in 19 first half points, missed only two of his eight shots, and was perfect on all three attempts from beyond the arc. After a shaky rebounding game by the Red Storm against Mercer, Roberts appeared to be on a mission to plug that hole. Roberts grabbed 7 first half rebounds, added 4 points on a perfect 2/2 from the floor, and sent away 2 blocks.
The Red Storm went into halftime leading the Blue Devils 39-33.
Coming out of the break, the Red Storm began scoring at ease, going on a 24-1 run early in the half. After LJ Figueroa experienced a slightly inefficient first half (8 points, 3/10 FG, 2/5 3PT), he looked much improved in the second half for the Johnnies. LJ added 9 points (3/6 FG, 3/5 3PT) after the break and dished out 4 assists to lead St. John’s on that early run.
Although Central Connecticut was successful in protecting the ball in the first half, St. John’s turned up the pressure and the Blue Devils were not able to handle it. Central Connecticut turned the ball over 16 times in the second half, and the Red Storm converted these into 22 points.
Defensively, the Johnnies did not allow anything easy in the second half. They barely even allowed anything difficult, as the Red Storm held Central Connecticut to 24 points on a paltry 32% field goal percentage in the half.
Between the early run by the Johnnies and their lock-down defense late, Central Connecticut was unable to make a run at a comeback, and the Red Storm pick up another win, 87-57.
St. John’s Red Storm
Mustapha Heron: 30 points (10/15 FG, 6/7 3PT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers
LJ Figueroa: 17 points (6/16 FG, 5/10 3PT), 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 turnover
Julian Champagnie: 10 points (5/11 FG, 0/2 3PT), 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers
Central Connecticut Blue Devils
Greg Outlaw: 11 points (3/9 FG, 0/1 3PT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists
Karrington Wallace: 4 points (1/5 FG), 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover