‘Locked in’ Storm beat USF decisively 81-57

The St. John’s men’s basketball team completed its second dominant performance in its last three games with an 81-57 win over San Francisco at Carnesecca Arena Wednesday.

The Red Storm (7-3), who dominated Fordham on Dec. 7 and fell by five to No. 2 Syracuse on Sunday, continued a stretch of improved play that began with a second half comeback against Georgia Tech on Nov. 30.

“The older guys have been saying ‘You know man we gotta play each game hard – play each game like a Syracuse, play each game like it’s conference play,” junior guard D’Angelo Harrison told reporters. “So we got it. We bought in.”

St. John’s got in front early against the Dons (6-5) and didn’t look back as four players finished in double digits and 14 players saw the floor. The Johnnies separated themselves with a 17-6 run toward the end of the first half.

The Red Storm got an early spark from Harrison, who tied Willie Shaw for the all-time program record for 3-point shots with 151. Harrison finished the evening 5-for-8 from the field, while freshman guard Rysheed Jordan continued his adjustment to college play with 10 points and four assists.

“He doesn’t think in the game anymore,” Harrison said. “He just attacks.”

Sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson scored 14 points, followed by senior forward Orlando Sanchez’s 11. The team combined for nine blocks – including four from sophomore center Chris Obekpa and three from Sanchez.

St. John’s didn’t show any letdown effect after Sunday’s showdown with Syracuse and Lavin said he had concern about the turnaround involving a game on campus, finals week and leftover emotions from the weekend loss.

“Those are all the aspects you’re concerned about as a coach,” Lavin said. “Will we bounce back with the necessary energy to win a game? And the hangover from an emotional loss like the one we had against Syracuse can sometimes end up beating you twice.

The best remedy to shake off that hangover is to get back on the winning track and we were able to do that tonight,” he added.

Mark Tollefsen led the Dons with 14 points, while Kruize Pinkens scored 12 and Chris Adams added 11. The team’s leading scorer this season, Cole Dickerson, fouled out with 12:24 left in the game.

“It’s hard to win a game when your best player plays 15 minutes,” San Francisco coach Rex Walters said. “He got into foul trouble and I made a calculated risk to play him. We tried to protect him in the zone and he picked up a foul.”

The Red Storm close out their 11-game stretch of contests in New York City with a matchup against Youngstown State Saturday and one more appearance at the Barclays Center against Columbia Dec. 27 before opening conference play on the road.

“We’re all locked in so we have to get ready for Youngstown State,” Harrison said.