St. John’s Escapes Upset against Bowling Green

Nail-biting has become a way of life for St. John’s Red Storm (2-0, 0-0) fans in non-conference play for the previous few seasons. Superstition may have led some to believe that due to the Bowling Green Falcons (1-1, 0-0) owning a 3-2 record against the Johnnies, it could be an upset today. Sportsbooks didn’t think so, and neither did anyone else. But boy did it come extremely close.

Playing in the second game of four in the Legends Classic presented by Old Trapper, the Johnnies began the game on a 9-0 run after a jumper from Dylan Frye, and a jaw-dropping three pointer from Justin Turner. The Red Storm did not fold after coming out of the starting gate on the wrong foot, as back to back triples from Big East Player of the Year Shamorie Ponds, and Marvin Clark II sank through the netting early on.


The first half included the loss of South Carolina transfer Sedee Keita, to a lower-body injury, also happens to be the tallest player on the squad. Safe to say the Johnnies would be missing his front court presence against the Falcons. Points in the paint from Bowling Green rounded out at 10 compared to the Red Storm’s eight. The two bright spots of the half-included Mustapha Heron going 5-for-9 from the field, and 2-for-5 from beyond the arc to come away with 13 points. Marvin Clark II also obtained 13 points on the scoresheet as well. The bench for Chris Mullin was ice cold, as Quinnipiac transfer and new sixth man in Mikey Dixon, shot twice unsuccessfully, and grabbed one board.


Throughout the first half, Bowling Green went on numerous runs that included the Johnnies not being able to score. The falcons went on an 8-0 run and a 6-0 run within a five-minute span that saw St. John’s trail for the second time in the game.


Four players for St. John’s that netted double-digit points included Mustapha Heron, Shamorie Ponds, Marvin Clark II, and L.J. Figueroa.


The second half of the contest began just the way as it ended for the Johnnies, not too pretty. To add to the subpar play, Big East Preseason Player of the Year Shamorie Ponds was seen on the bench flexing his knee and jogging back and forth near the trainer’s table. Ponds missed roughly eight minutes of action before he made the game all about him, and L.J. Figueroa.


With Ponds being ice cold in the first half, the second half sidelined the junior guard only for seven minutes. Could he have come in sooner to help his team? Most likely, but Chris Mullin took advantage of his new-look bench that featured a pair of seasoned players. Shamorie’s hot hand became the talk of the game, as he netted 16 points. Those points included two crucial three point shots, to narrow the lead for the Falcons, and to put the Johnnies on top in the later going. Ponds played 13 minutes in the latter half of the game, going six-for-11 from the field.


Bowling Green would not go down without a fight, as the Falcons narrowed the lead to as little as one with seconds to go on the game clock. Mustapha Heron sealed the deal with two go-ahead free throws, that led to the Falcons gaining possession of the ball. A throw-in from Demajeo Wiggins was stolen by Heron in the wee seconds of the contest. Seems as if the transfer can do anything and everything.


The Johnnies begin their road season against former Big East rival Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Piscataway, New Jersey next Friday at 7:00pm. The game can be seen on the BTN (Big Ten Network)

Joseph Jarzynka