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St. John’s Shooting Overcomes Utah’s Giant Frontcourt, Win 91-82

Johnnies shot 13 of 26 from deep and added 16 fastbreak points to overcome bigger Utah team

NCAA Basketball: Charleston Classic Third Place - St. John at Utah David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s shooting powered the Red Storm past Utah, 91-82.

After a tough loss to Dayton on Friday, the Red Storm matched up with the Utah Utes for third place in the Charleston Classic.

Utah is the second biggest team in the country, and historically a type of team both Mike Anderson’s and Chris Mullin’s teams struggled with. The Red Storm were going to have to be effective on the fastbreak and efficient from deep, two areas the Johnnies have struggled in as their 177th in the country in fastbreak points per game with 10.5 per game and 95th in the county in three-point shooting percentage at just under 37%.

In the first half, St. John’s was effective at both, scoring 14 fastbreak points and shot an impressive 50% (8 of 16) from beyond the arc.

The Ivy League transfers Jordan Dingle (Penn) and Chris Ledlum (Harvard) made strong contributions for St. John’s in both respects before the break. The duo combined for 6 of the team’s 14 fastbreak points, and 5 of the team’s 8 threes. Dingle finished the half with 10 points (4-6 FG, 2-3 3FG), 2 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Ledlum added 9 points (3-6 FG, 3-6 3FG), 4 rebounds, and 1 assist.

Utah’ two starting bigs — Lawson Lovering and Branden Carlson — were also largely held in check by Joel Soriano. Utah’s two centers combined for 14 points (4-11 FG, 2-3 3FG), 7 rebounds, and 3 assists, which is more than acceptable with St. John’s having been torched by similar bigs in the past.

All in all, St. John’s played likely their most complete half of the season and went into halftime up on Utah, 52-43.

The Johnnies looked flat coming out of the half. The first 4 minutes of the second half were made up of an 11-0 run by Utah, 6 of such points were scored at the rim. After the first media timeout, which looked about as comfortable as the Thanksgiving conversations some of us will be having this week, the Red Storm responded with a 11-2 run of their own including this gem from Jordan Dingle.

Dingle’s dunk wasn’t the only beautiful dunk of the half, as Joel Soriano joined Dingle soon after.

Soriano later got his bell rung on some friendly fire by Ledlum, had to go to the bench, didn’t appear to get checked for a concussion, then checked back in at the next dead ball.

Aside from the first 4 minutes of the half, St. John’s kept having success from deep despite getting little accomplished in transition. The Red Storm shot another impressive 5 of 10 (50%) from deep with four Johnnies hitting at least one shot from deep. While the shooting stayed hot in both halves, the fastbreak points weren’t there for the Johnnies in the second half, as Iona transfer Daniss Jenkins recorded the team’s sole fastbreak basket.

Additionally, the ball moved effectively on offense. St. John’s had 19 assists, which is promising in the context of 30 made field goals. While the Johnnies’ 16 turnovers is going to have to decrease going into Big East play, more assists than turnovers will always give a team a chance to win.

Despite Utah emptying its bench for the final 2 minutes, Coach Rick Pitino left in his key rotation players to close out the contest. The Johnnies had a pair of turnovers in the final 2 minutes, and Utah scored 10 points in the final minutes, so it may have been to teach the team about letting the foot off the gas a little too early.

Nonetheless, the Red Storm finished the game with a 3rd place victory in the Charleston Classic over Utah, 91-82.

St. John’s Red Storm

Daniss Jenkins: 19 points (8-17 FG, 0-2 3FG), 4 rebounds, 8 assists

Jordan Dingle: 18 points (7-13 FG, 4-8 3FG), 3 rebounds, 5 assists

Chris Ledlum: 15 points (5-9 FG, 4-7 3FG), 9 rebounds, 2 assists

Utah Utes

Branden Carlson: 22 points (6-15 FG, 2-3 3FG), 8 rebounds, 2 assists

Cole Bajema: 14 points (5-10 FG, 3-7 3FG), 1 assist