Ahmed Records Double Double for Johnnies Ninth Win vs. Iona

(Photo taken by St. John's University Athletics)

New York, NY--The first time back at the Mecca, since March 8th, 2017, the Johnnies (9-2) returned to "The World's Most Famous Arena" in style, as they knock off the Iona Gaels (5-5) 69-59.

The Johnnies returned home from their two game swing on the west coast, as they went 1-1, with a loss to Arizona State at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Returning to the east coast was a blessing for St. John's as they have been without redshirt sophomore and the teams second leading scorer in Marcus LoVett for the last four match-ups currently. Not to worry, because senior combo-guard Bashir Ahmed registered a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards, and two helpers to secure his teams much needed victory.

"We didn't play that well in the first half, but I don't think it had anything to do with our opponent. I thought we got good looks, missed a lot of easy shots, and I think when you do that, no matter who you are playing against, it keeps that team in the game." Chris Mullin cannot be more right, as his team shot an abysmal 9-for-28 from the field, and 0-for-7 from beyond the arc, heading to the locker room tied at 25 to finish the first half.

Head Coach Chris Mullin had comments regarding another pour first half performance from his squad, "Maybe they need a little sweat or something to get going. I don't know."

Coming out of the room for the second half, Brooklyn native, and sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds netted 14 out of his 16 total points during the latter stages of the game. Ponds also shot perfectly (8/8) from the charity stripe, and recorded 4 steals to add to his game resume. Senior combo guard Bashir Ahmed recorded his second career double-double, by netting 12 points and tallying 11 boards, which was a career high for the hometown boy.

West Coast resident and Arizona native Justin Simon helped the Johnnies hold yet another opponent to under 60 points, which ranks 18th in the NCAA. This is now the seventh time in 11 games that the Red Storm have accomplished this feat. Justin also ended an Iona run with a game changing three-pointer in the final five minutes of the contest to put the game on ice for the Gaels at 61-51.

In the 69-59 victory, the Johnnies won the battle down low, as they netted nearly 30 more points in the paint against their opposition (44-16 in the paint points). The one issue which has kept the Johnnies on their toes the entire season, has been the lack of bench depth. The Red Storm were outscored 16-2 in bench points, with the only player being junior forward Kassoum Yakwe netting the lone basket from the bench.

But now, the focus turns to St. Joseph's of Philadelphia, as they travel north to Mohegan Sun this coming Wednesday on 12/20 to play in the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena at 4:30pm. The game can be seen on ESPNU, and can be heard on WSJU St. John's University Radio

Joseph Jarzynka