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St. John’s men’s basketball snaps out of early funk, clobbers Holy Cross, 91-45

The Red Storm’s bench unit scored as many points as Holy Cross in a convincing rout

R.J. Luis daps up his teammates after a 14-point debut for the Red Storm
Chris Hagan

The first eight minutes of this game portended to a lethargic Thanksgiving weekend struggle against a low-major opponent St. John’s should blow out. Holy Cross vaulted to an early 18-10 lead after a mid-range jumper by DeAndre Williams.

Then the Johnnies woke up from their slumber.

R.J. Luis, who was making his long-awaited St. John’s debut, gashed the Crusaders, with 12 of his 14 points coming inside the paint. Luis, Joel Soriano, and Chris Ledlum skewered the Crusaders by combining for nine straight makes inside the paint to catapult St. John’s to a 34-10 run to end the half.

R.J. Luis gets an open lane to the basket
Chris Hagan

The reserves even made a beautiful transition play when Zuby Ejiofor rejected a Declan Ryan layup, Brady Dunlap collected the rebound, linked an outlet pass to a breaking Simeon Wilcher, who then set-up an alley-oop dunk for Zuby Ejiofor that was violent enough to send Ejiofor pinwheeling to the floor.

The Red Storm didn’t just lean on Holy Cross with their superior length or physicality, they forced the issue by ratcheting up their defensive pressure and playing the passing lanes. As a result, the Crusaders surrendered 20 turnovers. Senior guard Joe Octave, who scored a career-high 33 points against Georgetown, failed to strike twice against Big East competition and was held to 7 points.

The second half was only a matter of crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s. The Red Storm buried the Crusaders with a 47-17 second half, led by their bench unit’s 32 second half points. For the first time this season, St. John’s even cut down on their turnovers by only having 8 giveaways in the entire game.

When the buzzer sounded, all 13 Red Storm players entered the scoring column and the team totaled 58 points in the paint.

Notable statlines

Joel Soriano: 16 points (8-for-9), 6 rebounds

R.J. Luis: 14 points (6-for-12), 4 rebounds

Jordan Dingle: 11 points (5-for-8)

Chris Ledlum: 10 points (4-for-7), 6 rebounds

Zuby Ejiofor: 5 points (2-for-9), 7 rebounds, 4 blocks