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St. John’s Overcomes Poor First Half to Beat Lafayette, 83-68

Red Storm wins despite playing at a much slower pace

NCAA Basketball: Central Conn. State at St. John Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

After a poor first half showing, St. John’s pulls picks up a win over the Lafayette Leopards, 83-68.

The Johnnies came in as a 24-point favorite against a Lafayette team picked to finish last in Patriot League. However, the beauty of basketball is that you have to actually play the game, as the saying goes.

Lafayette was the first of likely many games where both teams are diametrically opposed in terms the of pace at which each team wants to play. The Leopards ranked 282nd in pace last season, as opposed to Mike Anderson’s perennial top-10 pace ranking. St. John’s wanted the pace in the 80-possessions-or-more range for the contest, Lafayette wanted the amount of possessions to be more in the low 60s.

Lafayette dictated the pace in the first half. Both teams had fewer than 31 possessions before the break. The Red Storm were unable to disrupt a Leopard offense that only turned the ball over 7 times and converted on quality looks (12-26 from the floor) largely resulting from of crisp ball-movement (8 assists).

NCAA Basketball: Merrimack at St. John Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Leopards’ Leo O’Boyle in particular gave the Red Storm fits. While O’Boyle did most of his damage from beyond the arc (3-5 3PT), he also spent time effectively operating out of the low and high post. The senior forward finished the half with 11 points (4-7 FG, 3-5 3PT), 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. However, the Johnnies would adjust after the half and hold O’Boyle to only 3 points in the second half.

David Jones was the lone bright spot for the Johnnies before the break. Jones’s first half was comparable to O’Boyle’s in that Jones was also effective from deep (2-3 3PT). However, unlike Boyle, nearly half of Jones’s shots came at the rim (2-5 at the rim).

Behind David Jones’s first half performance, the Red Storm went into the half up a bucket, 34-32.

In the second half, it appeared that St. John’s largely abandoned efforts to speed up the game. Instead, the Red Storm opted for the tried and true method of giving the ball to the biggest guy on the court close to the basket. The aforementioned biggest guy on the court, Joel Soriano, proceeded to wreak havoc on Lafayette’s smaller backline. Soriano put up 8 points in just under three minutes early in the second half, and finished the half with 13 points (5-7 FG) and 8 rebounds.

Once Soriano had to go to the bench for a well-deserved rest, Dylan Addae-Wusu hit a pair of threes to keep the Red Storm rolling, putting the team up by a more comfortable 13 points with just over 11 minutes left. Soriano and Addae-Wusu were the big scorers in the 13-0 run by the Johnnies that largely put the game out of reach halfway through the second half.

NCAA Basketball: Central Conn. State at St. John Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA Basketball: Central Conn. State at St. John Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Storm largely maintained a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game, and held on for the victory, 83-68.

The Red Storm next take on the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils on Tuesday at 7:00 PM at Carnesecca Arena.

St. John’s Red Storm

David Jones: 20 Points (7-14 FG, 2-4 3PT), 5 Rebounds, 2 Assists

Dylan Addae-Wusu: 14 Points (4-5 FG, 4-5 3PT), 3 Rebounds, 2 Assists

Joel Soriano: 13 Points (5-8 FG), 10 Rebounds, 2 Assists

Lafayette Leopards

Josh Rivera: 17 Points (6-13 FG, 1-3 3PT), 5 Rebounds, 2 Assists

TJ Berger: 17 Points (6-18 FG, 5-14 3PT), 7 Rebounds, 1 Assists