“I wouldn’t really categorize it as anything but a legitimate process,” said coach Chris Mullin of his team's mid-season turnaround. “We all knew the situation we were coming into, and to expect anything else would be somewhat unrealistic. Part of the process is dealing with those emotions, the ups and downs and being able to focus.”
Marcus LoVett tallied his fourth 20-plus point game of the season and his first since November 23, netting 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting and dishing out six assists to lead the Red Storm (8-7, 2-0).
The redshirt freshman also made six of his seven free throw attempts.
Backcourt mate Shamorie Ponds added 15 points and recorded four steals in a game for the fifth time this season, while Bronx native Bashir Ahmed chipped in 14 points on a 4-of-6 shooting effort from beyond the arc.
The front-court tandem of Darien Williams and Tariq Owens played a crucial role in helping the Red Storm pull away down the stretch, as the pair combined for 13 points on a 14-9 run that began with the contest tied at 59 and just under seven minutes to play.
For the game, Williams scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting and made all four of his free throw attempts, while also pulling down a career-high nine boards. Four of those rebounds came on the offensive glass.
Owens, the leading shot blocker in the Big East, recorded four or more swats for the sixth time in his last eight outings, rejecting four Blue Demon shot attempts in addition to scoring nine points and corralling five rebounds.
Malik Ellison filled up the stat sheet in the most meaningful of ways on Sunday afternoon, scoring seven points while dishing out a career-high eight assists and tying a career-high with six rebounds.
The sophomore from New Jersey also surrendered no turnovers in a career-high 37 minutes of action.
St. John’s was scheduled to return to action on Wednesday, looking to start 3-0- in the conference when they host No. 10 Creighton inside Carnesecca Arena at 8:30 p.m.
Women bounce back from tough loss
Led by the senior duo of Jade Walker and Aaliyah Lewis, the St. John’s women’s basketball team (9-4, 1-1) registered one of its best all-around offensive outputs of the season on Monday night in a 65-48 win on the road at Xavier (9-5, 1-2).
“This was a great win for us, bouncing back from a tough loss last week,” said coach Joe Tartamella. “I thought we did a great job in a number of phases of the game that we needed to improve on and I was really pleased with our effort.”
Walker netted a career-high 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor. The senior also brought down seven rebounds, grabbed two steals, dished out one assist and blocked one shot in the win.
Lewis also had a career-night, as the guard from Staten Island dished out a career-best 13 assists. The last time a St. John’s player had at least 12 assists was back on February 9, 2013, when former Red Storm standout Nadirah McKenith registered 12 dimes against Georgetown.
Freshman Alisha Kebbe had one of her best overall games of the season, recording 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Five of Kebbe’s nine boards came on the offensive glass.
As a team, St. John’s out-rebounded the Musketeers, 43-24, and came away with 13 steals to Xavier’s eight. From the field, the Red Storm hit 26 of its 66 tries while holding Xavier to 17-of-40 from the floor.
Next up for the Red Storm women is a January 5th meeting with Butler in Indiana. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.