No LoVett, No Problem for Johnnies to defeat Grand Canyon

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

Phoenix, AZ--Without Marcus LoVett (knee), critics weren't too thrilled about this match-up in Arizona, and weren't too confident either. The Red Storm (8-1) quieted us once again, by defeating the Grand Canyon Lopes (5-2) by a score of 68-60, after a late second half surge by the Casey Benson led WAC squad.

Sophomore Shamorie Ponds continues to shine as he netted 28 total points on the night, while shooting 10-for-21 from the field, and shot 2-for-5 from downtown. It is now the sixth time this season, that the Brooklyn native netted at least 20 points in a game. Shamorie wasn't only contributing points, he added four helpers, along with six boards, and five steals while playing a full 40 minutes.

Two other Red Storm players eclipsed the double digit mark in scoring world, as Arizona transfer Justin Simon and Michigan State transfer Marvin Clark II both recorded 17 and 10 points respectively. Head Coach Chris Mullin spoke about the two transfers after the win, "The transfer dynamic has so many factors that go into that, but I think style of play had a lot to do with it."

One of the NCAA's best defenses in the St. John's Red Storm, this is the sixth time they have held an opponent under 60 points. Grand Canyon was held to an abysmal 30.3% from the field. The Johnnies played great perimeter defense, as the Lopes only converted a quarter of their attempts, by going 8-for-32 from distance. Head Coach Chris Mullin had nothing but praise for the defensive tone, "Pretty good hustle. Okay defensively, pretty bad offensively. We never got going offensively." Mullin isn't wrong by any means, as his squad shot 39.6% from the field, and almost blew the game late in the second half.

St. John's began the game down by three, then exploded with an 8-0 run within the next three minutes. Inconsistency is what has been causing the Johnnies to start off slow, and have these runs, as said in the quote above. St. John's had a lead as big as 16 in the second half, and the Lopes had a comeback in them, as they had an 8-0 run of their own. The Johnnies held GCU to seven crucial points as they had two runs left in the Lopes, but was not enough as the Johnnies defeated GCU 68-60.

The atmosphere in the building was one-sided for obvious reasons, as Grand Canyon plays roughly 10 miles away from this building. Head Coach Chris Mullin commented on the student presence, "I've seen some of their games on campus, and I was just really glad we didn't play there. I have a lot of respect for Dan Majerle and Jerry Colangelo, that's why we came out here."

The Red Storm head to the Pacific Coast to take on No. 16/17 Arizona State in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Friday night. The game can be seen on the PAC 12 Network at 8:00pm EST.

Joseph Jarzynka