The win bumps the Red Storm’s record to 20-8 (8-7 Big East), their most wins since the 2014-15 season, where they finished 21-12 (10-8 Big East) and secured an NCAA Tournament bid.
“The crowd has been phenomenal for us,” said coach Chris Mullin after the win in front of 18,529 in attendance, who provided another raucous atmosphere at Madison Square Garden. “Our fan base does is going to show up and we are going to go after it.
“We are going to be ready to win,” Mullin added. “They aren’t always going to play great, not everyone is going to play perfect, but these guys are locked in to playing for each other. I have always preached to them the history and tradition of St. John’s, and they take that very serious.”
On December 29, the Red Storm opened up Big East play with a road visit to Seton Hall, where they ultimately lost 76-74, but the contest was mired by a controversial call from the officials that went Seton Hall’s way and led to a game-winning three-pointer.
Shamorie Ponds said St. John’s didn’t forget what transpired in December.
“It was definitely payback,” he said, after leading the Red Storm effort with 27 points, five assists and five steals, including a steal and dunk to add an exclamation point with 17 seconds to go.
“We always kept in the back of our minds what they did to us at the end of the game,” he said.
The Red Storm led by as many as 23 points, stomping Seton Hall 28-5 over the game’s first nine minutes. Seton Hall gradually chipped away at the lead, including an 11-0 run after the strong start, but the Pirates didn’t come within 10 points of the Red Storm until 3:55 left in the game.
Seton Hall got as close as five points with 1:01 to go, but the Johnnies held-off their New Jersey rivals.
“We were locked in, focused and didn’t forget what the last game was like,” said senior Marvin Clark II, who had 18 points, six rebounds and three steals in his final regular season game at MSG. “We’ve been trying our hardest not to drop two in a row and we’ve done a great job of that.
“The biggest focus for us right now is to finish the season strong, giving us momentum going into the Big East Tournament and into the big games,” Clark added.
In the conference standings, the Red Storm sit alone in third place, and the Pirates are now 16-11 (7-8 Big East), tied for fourth. Only the nationally ranked combo of Marquette (23-4, 12-2 Big East) and Villanova (20-7, 11-3 Big East) stand ahead of St. John’s in the league standings.
The Red Storm have three games left in the regular season before the Big East Tournament begins on March 13 at MSG.