The St. John’s men’s basketball team left no question about starting fast as it defeated Fordham 104-58 in its first game at Madison Square Garden Saturday.
After developing a trend of slow starts, the Red Storm (6-2) reeled off an astonishing first half where they went 12:39 without missing a shot. They made 17-for-17 from the field and had a field goal percentage as high as 88 percent before finishing the half at 79 percent.
“It was our first game at Madison Square Garden and we showed how we’re capable of playing,” junior D’Angelo Harrison said. “This is how we play and it’s going to be tough to beat us.”
The Red Storm finished 66.1 percent (39-of-59) from the field and 60 percent (9-of-15) from 3-point range. The statistics resulted in a win that crossed the 100-point threshold for the first time since Feb. 15, 1999 against Providence at Carnesecca Arena.
Sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson, who said the team needed to come out with more energy after last week’s games at the Barclays Center, finished with 12 points, all in the first half.
“We’re trying to break that habit from getting off to slow starts because that’s what we’re known for,” Sampson said. “We just came out and did what we’re supposed to do early and jumped on them early.”
Senior forward Orlando Sanchez had a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds. Junior guard D’Angelo Harrison added 13, while junior forward Sir’Dominic Pointer had 12 points and 11 assists.
“Everybody on the team tells me I have to shoot all the time,” Sanchez said noting his propensity for passing. “I [shot] everything today.”
Fordham’s Jon Severe, a highly-regarded freshman who scored 30 against Manhattan earlier this season, finished with nine points on 1-for-21 from the field. Mandell Thomas led the Rams (4-3) with 15 points.
“Our lack of depth caught up to us,” Fordham head coach Tom Pecora said. “We were tired and they were still sprinting the floor.”
St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin attributed his team’s success to a willingness to find a high-percentage shot – something the Red Storm seemed to have lacked at points over the first month of the season.
“They were aggressive, but also probing, investigating, looking for the best available shot,” he said.
The Johnnies face Syracuse next Sunday in the team’s second game against Top-25 competition so far this year. Harrison noted how the high-energy play from the second half of Georgia Tech rolled into success against Fordham.
“Hopefully this game carries over to Syracuse and we’ll take care of business too,” he said.