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Soriano Shoulders St. John’s Past West Virginia, 79-73

Johnnies navigate the country roads to stand victorious upon the mountain mama

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Soriano and St. John’s 18 offensive rebound help the Red Storm escape Morgantown, West Virginia with a win against the Mountaineers, 79-73.

Feels like St. John’s just played West Virginia, but it has been nearly four years since the two teams last faced off at Madison Square Garden.

The Red Storm’s struggles at the rim continued against the Mountaineers. The Johnnies have been one of the worst teams in the country at the rim, coming into this one in the bottom 14% of Division 1 basketball shooting a paltry 55% at the rim. The average Division 1 school has a field goal percentage at the rim of over 62%.

The issue at the rim hasn’t been Soriano, who came in shooting over 78% at the rim. In this contest, Soriano shined again, finishing with 24 points, shooting 6 of 7 at the rim.

The rim scoring efficiency issue has been Chris Ledlum and Glen Taylor Jr. More than a third of Ledlum’s shots come at the rim, and he’s made less than 29% of those attempts. Ledlum shooting percentage at the rim is worse than 95% of Division 1 basketball players. Similarly for Taylor, a quarter of his shots are at the basket and he only convert 50% of those shots.

Ledlum was much better at the rim in this contest. The Harvard transfer finished 7 for 11 at the rim before fouling out of the game with 17 points (8-16 FG, 1-4 3FG), 10 rebounds, and 2 assists. Aside from Ledlum and Soriano, the rest of the Johnnies shot 1 of 8 at the bucket.

To make matters worse in this contest, the Red Storm shot poorly from deep. The Johnnies were 7 of 27 from beyond the arc, and aside from the deep jumpers from Soriano and Nahiem Alleyne, none of the shots looked particularly encouraging.

Second chance points, however, kept St. John’s close in this one, largely from offensive rebounds. The team collectively had 9 different players grabbing at least 1 offensive board.

Another surprise from the quantity of guys grabbing at least 1 offensive rebound is that this St. John’s team usually plays a small rotation. Coming in, over 75% of the available minutes were played by the regular starters or Nahiem Alleyne, and that number is inflated with two of St. John’s six games being against Stony Brook and Holy Cross. Tonight, 80% of available minutes were played by the starters or Nahiem Alleyne, and the other guys still found a way to add 5 offensive rebounds.

The bench minutes were at least in part a necessity with the foul trouble Soriano, and Daniss Jenkins were in for much of the game. Oddly enough, Chris Ledlum fouled out first despite not picking up any fouls in the first half.

These offensive rebounds were how the Johnnies overcame their offensive softness at the rim and poor shooting. The second possessions simply helped the team take more shots than the Mountaineers, as those offensive rebounds turned into 26 second chance points.

Those second chance points gave the Red Storm a chance to hit a clutch shot late, which Alleyne hit from deep to give St. John’s a 7-point lead with 20 second to go to put the game out of reach for West Virginia.

The Mountaineers tried a little bit of the fouling game, but eventually relented with St. John’s beating West Virginia, 79-73.

St. John’s Red Storm

Joel Soriano: 24 points (8-11 FG, 1-1 3FG), 9 rebounds

Chris Ledlum: 17 points (8-16 FG, 1-4 3FG), 10 rebounds, 2 assists

Nahiem Alleyne: 14 points (5-9 FG, 2-4 3FG), 4 rebounds, 1 assist

West Virginia Mountaineers

Quin Slazinski: 19 points (5-10 FG, 1-3 3FG), 7 rebounds, 2 assists

Jesse Edwards: 15 points (5-8 FG), 6 rebounds