Arizona State Too Much for Simon and Red Storm in Tinseltown

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

Los Angeles, CA--Under the bright lights on South Figueroa Street in LA Live, so much history has taken place at the STAPLES Center. NBA Legends have played in the same building, on the same floor such as Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Shaquille O'Neal. The St. John's Red Storm (8-2) couldn't rally back against the high powered No. 16/17 Arizona State Sun Devils (8-0) under the banners of the storied Los Angeles Lakers franchise in Los Angeles tonight.

The Johnnies trailed by as much as 18 points in the first half. But with pride and heart that NBA Hall of Famer and Head Coach Chris Mullin has pumped into the locker room, the Johnnies didn't go down without a fight.

The perimeter shooting for the Red Storm have been an ongoing issue for the previous three games, as it continued against one of the best three-point defenses in the entire country. Starting forward Marvin Clark II, was the player of the game for the Johnnies, as he scored 18 points, 13 of them coming in the first half, where he shot 7-for-13 from the field, and 4-for-7 from distance. Someone who cannot and will not be overlooked is the Big East leading shot blocker in Tariq Owens, who tallied three more blocks on his resume, and grabbed five rebounds as well.

Head Coach Chris Mullin spoke about Owens' performance after the loss, "Tariq has so many skills. We have seen it, he just doesn't always put it together in a game, but those are shots that he makes routinely. I love when he shoots those shots and I was glad he made them because we are going to need that moving forward."

One of the nations top offenses entering the contest, Arizona State was held below their season average in points, three-point field goal percentage, and regular shots from the field. "Those three guards (Holder, Evans II, Justice) are big priorities, we wanted to contain them and keep them out of the middle. They came out really hot and I think we maintained our composure and got back in the game."

The Red Storm held leading scorer Tra Holder to seven points, where he shot 2-for-12 from the field. Holder had four helpers, along with five rebounds in 37 minutes of play.

Justin Simon netted six points of his own, while putting up five helpers, and five boards. Senior Bashir Ahmed added seven points and eight boards as well.

Arizona State continued to excel offensively over the remainder of the half, extending their lead to 18 before the Red Storm scored the final five points of the first half. The Johnnies were very resilent moving into the final stanza of the Hall of Fame Classic, where they came within two points at one time, but a stop for the Sun Devils effectively put the game away, while Kodi Justice netted one final bucket from downtown to seal the deal at 82-70.

The Johnnies return to New York next Sunday night, when they begin their Madison Square Garden schedule against local opponent Iona Gaels. The game can be seen on FS1 at 4:30pm on December 17th, and can be heard on WSJU St. John's University Radio Network via TuneIn app.

Joseph Jarzynka