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Despite sloppy play, St. John’s gets by FDU, 87-74

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Not the performance the Red Storm were hoping for in their return home, but a W nonetheless

Stef Smith battles for a loose ball
Nick Bello

St. John’s had some nervy moments on their way to a 86-74 win over the visiting Fairleigh Dickinson Knights. The Red Storm are 3-1 on the season; FDU is 0-3 on the season.

St. John’s continues their homestand with a game against St. Francis of Brooklyn on Tuesday evening.

In the future, we may call this game gritty, or realize that FDU is once again a well-coached and/ or talented team. But at the moment, the Red Storm’s inability to control the Knights or play a fluid offensive game raises a little bit of an eyebrow.

St. John’s led by as many as 18 in the first half, but the Red Storm’s run was less smooth than it was against the likes of Saint Peter’s.

Despite a start where Fairleigh Dickinson committed three turnovers on their first three possessions, and a game where Montez Mathis was active early with two steals, a couple of scores and an assist, the game soon got bogged down.

The Knights shaved a seven points off of the lead while the Johnnies continued to turn the ball over, and suffered a four minute field goal drought.

FDU sloppy and maybe a little selfish with their shot choices against the Red Storm pressure, but they connected far better than in their first two games.

At the half, St. John’s led by 12, but Julian Champagnie was 3/12, the Red Storm had committed seven turnovers, while Fairleigh Dickinson was shooting 4/9 from deep and had gotten to the free throw line 18 times.

With 11 minutes left, the Johnnies made some plays that got the (fairly small?) crowd back into the game. A steal at the three-point line led to a fast break. Aaron Wheeler saved a missed three by tipping the ball up a couple of times, and kicked it out to Addae-Wusu for a three. That was part of a 9-0 run that ballooned the run to 20.

Aaron Wheeler found his rhythm a little, getting comfortable with the jumper, his drive, post defense, and defense at the perimeter.

FDU would not go away. A 15-3 run and a four minute field goal drought, plus a string of Devon Dunn got Fairleigh Dickinson within nine with less than four minutes to go.

A pair of fast break scores from Posh Alexander and Montez Mathis, plus a pair of Julian Champagnie jumpers salted the game away.

Champagnie and Alexander led St. John’s with 17 apiece. Stef Smith (14), Joel Soriano (12), and Montez Mathis (13) all scored double figures. Champagnie added 10 rebounds.

Notes

  • O’Mar Stanley fouled out in eight minutes on the floor, committing two turnovers and one offensive rebound.
  • Fairleigh Dickinson eclipsed their previous season high in points (49), and Devon Dunn had a career-high 24.
  • Tareq Coburn and Rafael Pinzon sidelined. Pinzon broke his left (non-shooting) finger; Coburn was out with a non-COVID illness.
  • FDU made 24 field goals, took 24 free throws, committed 23 fouls, and had 23 turnovers.