STJ opens Big East play this week
Dec 26, 2017 | 2135 views | 0 0 comments | 141 141 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Behind another key offensive performance from Shamorie Ponds and a near triple-double from Justin Simon, the St. John’s men’s basketball team secured its 10th win of the season last week at Mohegan Sun Arena, topping Saint Joseph’s, 77-73, in the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase.

After an eight-day long Christmas break, the Red Storm will welcome Providence to Carnesecca Arena for the team’s Big East opener on Thursday.

“We are going to take these next few days and rest our bodies, but we have to be ready to hit it hard,” said Ponds after the win over Saint Joseph’s. “We just have to recuperate.”

Ponds put forth his most efficient effort of the season from the field, shooting 9-of-15, including 7-of-8 from two-point range, en route to 28 points.

In addition to reaching the 28-point mark for the third time this season, Ponds also grabbed seven boards and dished out four assists. The Brooklyn native made eight of his 11 tries from the free throw line, including four in the game’s final 23 seconds to keep the Hawks at bay.

Simon nearly made history, falling just one assist shy of the Red Storm’s first triple-double since Ron Artest accomplished the feat in 1999 against Seton Hall. Simon tallied 11 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, the last of which matched a career high.

“I was aware,” Simon said. “One of our graduate assistants told me at halftime, but I just play to win. I was just doing whatever it takes to win.”

Falling just one point shy of his season high, Bashir Ahmed netted 16 on 6-of-12 shooting and corralled five rebounds. The senior also tied a career high with three steals.

Tariq Owens, the Big East’s leading shot blocker, swatted five Saint Joe’s attempts in addition to scoring seven points and grabbing seven rebounds. Owens is now averaging 4.3 blocks per game over his last six outings and has recorded no less than two rejections in a game this season.

Saint Joe’s entered the contest surrendering just 8.7 turnovers per game, the second best average in the nation. The Johnnies, who came to Connecticut ranked ninth in turnovers forced per game (19.4), squeezed a season-high 19 turnovers from the Hawks.

It was the sixth-straight game in a different arena for St. John’s.

“That’s a big reason why I came to St. John’s,” said Simon. “Playing on a big stage in different arenas has been amazing..”
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