Sir'Dominic Pointer was everywhere early and often.
St. John's (12-7, 4-3 Big East) defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-6, 3-4 Big East), 72-60, on Wednesday night at the RAC. JaKarr Sampson went for 21 points and D`Angelo Harrison scored 20, but nothing was more important than Pointer's play.
St. John's missed 8 of 9 field goal attempts, allowing Rutgers to get out to an 18-9 lead. The Johnnies found themselves in an early hole, much like they did two weeks ago when the Scarlet Knights sprinted to a 13-2 advantage.
But the Johnnies started to get out and run, and cut the deficit down. Sir`Dominic Pointer, like he has in recent games, led the Red Storm's fast break off Rutgers misses on the other end.
In fact, it was Pointer who charged the Johnnies throughout the entire first half - mostly with his hustle plays. On one of his fast breaks, he made a poor decision to throw up a wild shot. On the other end, it was Pointer who intercepted a Rutgers pass. He had 5 first-half steals.
The Johnnies led by one, 29-28, at halftime despite being behind for most of the first 20 minutes. An 8-0 run in the final minutes before intermission gave the Red Storm the lead.
St. John's came out of the locker room with a 9-0 spurt (17-0 overall), taking advantage of Rutgers' offensive woes.
With just under 15 minutes left, Pointer picked up his third foul, forcing Steve Lavin to take him out of the game. Immediately after Pointer's departure, Rutgers went on a quick 7-0 run to cut the Red Storm lead back to just three.
But once Pointer re-entered minutes later, St. John's righted the ship. With 8:45 left, the Johnnies were back up by 11 (53-42), their largest lead at the time, after a pair of JaKarr Sampson jumpers and a D`Angelo Harrison three-pointer.
Harrison started slow in the first half with only 5 points, but heated up offensively in the second half. As the Red Storm's offense began to stagnate, it was a Harrison fall away jumper from the right wing that re-extended the lead to nine (57-48) with just over 5 minutes to play.
Just as they did in the teams' first meeting, St. John's wanted to slow Rutgers' top guards - Myles Mack and Eli Carter. Though Mack scored 17 points, Carter was held to just 5 points on 1-14 shooting.
St. John's had plenty of opportunities to close the game out earlier, but struggled heavily from the free throw line. At one point late in the second half, the Johnnies missed 8 of 10 from the line.
Ultimately, the Johnnies sealed the 12-point victory. But the end was anything but pretty. The Johnnies finished 21-35 (60%) from the free-throw line.
Pointer finished 13 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 6 steals. Though he didn't get his second career double-double, the stat line speaks for itself.
Dane Miller, the Knights' third-leading scorer, committed his fourth personal foul with 9 minutes left and was never a factor. He finished with just 2 points in 26 minutes.
As a team, Rutgers shot just 36.5% from the field. St. John's always wants to keep its opponents under the 40% threshold, and they were able to do it on Wednesday.
The Red Storm will next host the Seton Hall Pirates at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon.
Follow the Rumble on Facebook | Follow on Twitter: Rumble In The Garden | Tim | Quinn | Jaden | Pico | Follow on Tumblr