Behind 18 points from Sir`Dominic Pointer - with eight rebounds and six blocks - the St. John's Red Storm fended off a pesky attack from the LIU Blackbirds to finish their first week of play with a 66-53 win at Carnesecca Arena.
D`Angelo Harrison scored 14 points on 5/14 shooting; Rysheed Jordan chipped in 15, and Chris Obekpa had 10 rebounds to go with five points.
St. John's, despite the highlights, made the contest against a Long Island University squad with three new starters closer than most thought it would be.
The Red Storm felt the hot breath of the youthful Blackbirds breathing down their neck the whole game.
While it seemed that the aggressive LIU got a lot of what they wanted - assisting on over 60% of their made shots behind the Icelandic freshman duo of Elvar Fridriksson and Martin Hermannsson - the real difference in the game was the LIU defense and St. John's mistakes.
The Red Storm committed 10 turnovers in the first 30 minutes of the game, often facing a sagging LIU defense that goaded the Red Storm into taking long jump shots or finding themselves working the shot clock late against double teams.
But the talent on the Johnnies won out, even as the fundamentals begged questions of the senior-laden squad.
The Red Storm allowed 21 offensive rebounds to the fairly small LIU Blackbirds, with 6'6" Detroit native Landon Atterberry leading the way with seven offensive boards.
The Red Storm compounded the problem by giving up opportunities with turnovers. The Red Storm finished with an offensive efficiency of 1.03 points per possession - over 1 is generally considered competent, but the team was below 1 point per possession until the final three minutes - playing in a disjointed flow much of the evening.
St. John's finally increased the lead to more than eight points with under three minutes to go, but left many fans thinking that the game was in doubt for much longer than it should have been. Sir`Dominic Pointer provided highlights with steals, thunder dunks, and chase-down blocks; but Harrison (5/14 from the field), Phil Greene IV (2/7 from the field) and Chris Obekpa (1/7) had a hard time finding good shots.
LIU was led by Gerell Martin's 14 points; the Icelandic freshman duo combined for 10 points and 10 assists, dictating flow for stretches of the game.
Still, St. John's heads into next Wednesday's contest against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at 3-0, with a week to try and game plan for Richard Pitino's side.
Landon Atterberry and D`Angelo Harrison got into a scuffle, as Harrison and Greene collapsed on Atterberry fighting for a loose ball.
Myles Stewart logged his first collegiate points with a three in the first half of the game.
Felix Balamou saw nine minutes in the game, and started the second half in place of Rysheed Jordan, who struggled int he first half of action.
Jamal Branch scored five points on 2/2 shooting in 24 minutes; Christian Jones played two minutes but recorded no stats. Amar Alibegovic did not play.