The win marked the first time that St. John’s (6-7) has won three in a row against the Orange (7-5) since 1993, and the lopsided affair was good enough for the second largest margin of victory over Syracuse for the Red Storm in the 104-year history of the series.
“I really can’t explain it,” said head coach Chris Mullin after the game. “One thing I have learned in my short coaching stint is that you just never really know with these young guys. We’ve had some really good games already and we’ve had some stinkers.”
The Red Storm was just two points shy of matching that number, as the Redmen secured a 95-60 win over Syracuse on February 11, 1961, under the direction of Joe Lapchick.
The 33-point loss marked the worst loss in program history for the Orange at the Carrier Dome.
Following 12-point wins for the Red Storm in 2014 and 2015, the Johnnies have now won three straight against Syracuse by double digits for the first time since 1962.
Freshman sensation Shamorie Ponds proved outstanding once again for St. John’s, registering a game-high 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds in addition to tying a career-high with four steals.
The rookie from Brooklyn also surrendered no turnovers in 34 minutes.
Bashir Ahmed scored a career-high 20 points, 17 of which came in the second half, to aid the Red Storm, making seven of his 11 attempts from the floor. The junior from the Bronx also tallied five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
In just his second game back from injury, redshirt freshman Marcus LoVett dished out nine assists in 36 minutes of action while also scoring seven points and grabbing six rebounds.
After a career-high 22 points on Sunday, Malik Ellison reached double figures in consecutive games for just the second time in his career, sinking three of his five attempts from downtown to finish with 16 points.
The sophomore guard also grabbed six boards and dished out five assists while surrendering no turnovers.
Entering the game ranked second in the conference in blocks, Tariq Owens swatted four Syracuse shots and netted nine points against the Orange.
Kassoum Yakwe pulled down a season-high eight rebounds and poured in seven second-half points, while Richard Freudenberg put forth his best effort in a St. John’s uniform with nine points.
As a team, St. John’s recorded 27 assists on 34 made baskets, a season-high for helpers and the most by the squad in a single game since the Red Storm dished out 29 against Fordham in a 104-58 win on December 7, 2013.
Elijah Holifield made both of his field goal attempts to remain perfect on the season, while freshman walk-on Justin Cole, a product of Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, made his St. John’s debut.
St. John’s returns to action on December 29, opening Big East action against No. 13 Butler in Carnesecca Arena at 7 p.m.
Women finish strong for the win
Trailing by six entering the fourth quarter, the St. John’s women’s basketball team outscored James Madison, 27-9, over the final 10 minutes of the game to defeat the Dukes, 74-63, for its sixth-straight win.
“We came out in the first quarter and did a tremendous job, but in the second quarter we kind of let them run on us a little bit and went away from the game plan,” said head coach Joe Tartamella. “I could not be happier with how we finished the game and how we came out in those third and fourth quarters.”
For the game, St. John’s (8-3) hit 24 of its 54 tries from the field, including 6-of-13 in the fourth quarter. Additionally, the Red Storm hit 23-of-25 from the free throw line.
The 23 makes are the most in a single game this season and the most since St. John’s went 25-for-32 against Georgetown on February 14, 2016.
Jade Walker was one of four St. John’s players in double figures. The senior had 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor.
Imani Littleon matched a career-high with 14 points and set a new career-best with 13 boards. Littleton posted the first St. John’s double-double since Danaejah Grant had 22 points and 10 rebounds against DePaul in the semifinals of last year’s Big East Tournament.
Alisha Kebbe chipped in 12 points and three rebounds while dishing out a season-high four assists. Akina Wellere added 12 points and was 6-for-7 from the charity stripe.
For the second-straight game, St. John’s was dominant in the paint. The Red Storm outscored James Madison, 34-18, down low and turned 13 offensive rebounds into 22 second-chance points.
St. John’s returns to action on December 30 when they hit the road to square off against Seton Hall in the Johnnies’ Big East opener.