St. John's rolls to win over St. Francis
by Bryan Fonseca
Dec 21, 2018 | 6221 views | 0 0 comments | 508 508 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The St. John’s men’s basketball team rolled to its most lopsided victory of the season on Wednesday night, blowing past St. Francis Brooklyn, 86-52, and improving to 11-0 on the campaign.

“I thought it was a good game,” said head coach Chris Mullim. “The scoreboard is one thing, we’ve played well, let some leads slip, but that’s part of the game.

The Red Storm, one of just nine unbeaten teams remaining in the nation, continued its best start since 1982-83, when the Johnnies won a school record 14-straight games to begin the campaign.

St. Francis Brooklyn’s 52 points were the fewest allowed by St. John’s this season. The Terriers (7-5) also aided the Red Storm in registering season-best marks for opponent field goal percentage (27.7 percent) and three-point field goal percentage (16.7 percent).

"Obviously, we didn't play very well, but St. John's is a very good and a really tough team to match up with,” said St. Francis head coach Glenn Braica. “They have five perimeter guys in there at all times. It's hard for teams to match up with them and I think they are going to cause problems for people this year."

On the offensive end, the Red Storm featured a well-balanced attack that saw 11 of the 13 players who dressed find the bottom of the bucket with no one Johnnie recording more than 13 points.

St. John's also dominated the glass, grabbing a season-high 49 rebounds. In the second half, St. John’s outboarded St. Francis by a 28-14 margin.

LJ Figueroa and Mikey Dixon led the way with 13 points apiece. Figueroa narrowly missed his fourth double-double of the season with nine boards and a pair of steals, while Dixon notched his second-highest point total as a member of the Red Storm on 5-of-9 shooting from the field.

“I really stepped my defense up a lot from the beginning of the year and it showed,” said Dixon. “I’ve always been a scorer and I’m just trying to play aggressive, finding my spots.”

Shamorie Ponds needed only 25 minutes of action to piece together an impressive stat line, tallying 12 points, five assists, five rebounds and two steals.

The junior guard moved into 15th place on the St. John’s all-time scoring list, passing Anthony Glover (1,434) with his fifth point of the night.

Marvin Clark II seemed to be everywhere for St. John’s, posting 12 points on 3-of-5 shooting in addition to tallying seven rebounds, four assists and four blocks.

His four helpers set a new career high, while his four rejections matched a career best set during his freshman season at Michigan State in 2014-15 against Santa Clara.

Clark said the team isn't concerned about the fact that, despite being undefeated, they can't crack the AP Top 25.

“We hear the noise, but we block it all out,” he said. “We can only control what we can control. The rankings are rankings.”

Mustapha Heron and Justin Simon also added solid efforts in the win. Heron finished with eight points and six boards, while Simon posted six points, seven rebounds and two assists.

The Red Storm’s trio of freshmen enjoyed a Carnesecca Arena coming-out party. Greg Williams Jr. sank his first four shot attempts en route to posting eight points with three rebounds in 16 minutes of action.

Marcellus Earlington needed just four minutes of playing time to record seven points and five rebounds, draining a triple in transition to put an exclamation point on the victory.

And Josh Roberts rounded out the batch of impressive rookie performances, grabbing two boards and throwing down a dunk.

Justin Cole, Brandon Lawrence and Jay Camus also saw the floor, as Cole drained a midrange jumper for his first field goal of the season in the final minutes.

The Red Storm will play its final non-conference game before the start of Big East play when they host Sacred Heart on Saturday for an 8 p.m. showdown. Mullin isn't looking past the game to conference play.

“We always spend more time analyzing and dissecting our team and our next game,” he said. “We’ve seen progress and we’ve seen slippage in different areas in different games so whatever that might be, that’s what those games are for.”
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