It was a tale of two halves in the St. John’s men’s basketball team’s 74-59 win over William & Mary on Nov. 7 at Carnesecca Arena in its first regular season game.
In the first half, the Red Storm shot just 10-of-31 from the field offensively and gave up seven three-pointers on the other end to go into the locker room down 33-26 to a William & Mary team that finished 10th in the 12-team Colonial Athletic Association last season. Sophomore guard Nurideen Lindsey scored two points on 1-of-5 shooting in his first regular season St. John’s half.
But in the second half, the Johnnies came alive, sparked by Lindsey’s play on the both ends. He scored six points in the first four minutes of the second half and helped force four turnovers to close the gap to 37-36. Then, coming out of a media timeout, he drove and kicked to freshman guard D’Angelo Harrison to put St. John’s in front, and then hit a layup to put the score at 41-37.
They outscored William & Mary 48-26 in the half to win going away.
“I think the first half, guys came out a little tight,” said Lindsey. “We were definitely excited about the game, but we didn’t come out ready to play. Second half, we loosened up, understood that, you know, defensively we had to turn it up a notch.”
They turned it up in their zone press, making it hard for William & Mary to get over halfcourt. They forced 12 second-half turnovers, including a 10-second violation.
With the turnovers came easy points in transition. The Johnnies had 16 fast-break points and 28 points off turnovers, and shot 19-of-28 in the second half while relentlessly attacking the basket.
“The way they were playing their zone, the middle was pretty much wide open,” said freshman forward Moe Harkless. “We weren’t really exposing that in the first half, but in the second half our main focus was opening it up and exposing that and that would get us outside shots.”
Despite the frantic tempo in which the second half was played, the Red Storm didn’t record a single turnover, and only had four for the game. William & Mary finished with zero points off turnovers.
In the second half, we came out and played loosey-goosey,” said Special Assistant/Adviser Gene Keady. “They had
what, 21 turnovers? And we had four? Anytime you have four turnovers you’re probably going to win pretty big. I was really proud of the players, the way they came back.”
Four players finished with double figures for St. John’s. Harkless and junior forward God’sgift Achiuwa both had 17 while Harrison
finished with 14 points.
But it was Lindsey who stole the show, scoring 19 points with four assists and five steals. His steal and breakaway slam with 1:26 left pushed St. John’s lead to 16 and put an exclamation point on his second-half performance.
The Red Storm continue the regional portion of the 2K Sports Classic on Nov. 9 when they take on Lehigh at Carnesecca Arena. The players hope that the momentum from their second-half performance will carry over.
“Almost every game is an experience for us,” said Harrison. “Like today, first game, we got the jitters out in the first half and in the second half, we came out and we was all ready to go. I feel like that’s going to carry into the practice tomorrow. It’s going to be intense and it’s going to carry into Wednesday’s game too.”