The St. John’s men’s basketball cranked up the defensive intensity and got back to doing what it does best on Tuesday, smothering LIU into shooting 29.5 percent from the field and posting a 64-46 victory before 3,840 at Carnesecca Arena.
The Red Storm (3-3) forced 20 LIU turnovers, held the Blackbirds (2-3) to 19 first-half points and limited them to a 17.4 percent mark from 3-point range for the game. As a team, St. John’s finished second in the BIG EAST last season in scoring defense (60.4 points per game allowed), field goal percentage defense (.394) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (.322), but has struggled on the defensive end in recent losses.
“I thought we came out and played with a lot of energy and our defense was much better,” said St. John’s head coach Norm Roberts. “We did a decent job getting to loose balls and rebounding. I told the guys before the game that there are certain things you can't control, but we can control our energy level and our focus. When we come out and do that, we can be successful.”
Anthony Mason Jr. scored in double-figures for a career-high fourth-straight game, leading the Red Storm with 15 points to go along with five boards and three steals. Twelve of Mason Jr.’s points came in the paint, including two more alley-oop slams that ignited the crowd.
Rookie Qa’rraan Calhoun put in a career night, contributing all 10 of his points in the first half to lead a 25-9 bench scoring advantage in the opening period. Calhoun also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. Sophomore Ricky Torres logged another high-impact performance, with 10 points and a pair of long-range buckets in 16 minutes. Junior Avery Patterson was the fourth St. John’s player in double-figures also with 10, while guards James Williams and Aubin Scott scored 12 points each to lead LIU.
St. John’s raced out to an 8-1 lead from the opening tip and never looked back, with early 3-point baskets by Patterson and Calhoun and a putback by Mason Jr. When LIU drew within six points at the 8:40 mark in the first period, the Red Storm responded with a 10-0 run to make it 24-8 with 5:18 to play. Torres had five points and St. John’s forced three Blackbird turnovers during the three minute, 22-second burst.
The Red Storm led 33-19 at the half, marking the largest halftime lead (14 points) of the year and holding LIU to the lowest first-half output of any opponent this season. St. John’s forced 12 Blackbird turnovers in the opening stanza, and held LIU to 26.9 percent shooting from the field and a 22.2 mark from long range.
The Red Storm continues a stretch of non-conference home games on Friday, Dec. 1, when St. John’s play host to the UMBC Retrievers. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m
- SJU Communications -