St. John’s Tops St. Thomas 97-71 in exhibition match

St. John’s finishes its preseason exhibition matchup by defeating St. Thomas Aquinas 97-71 in Carnesecca Arena last Saturday afternoon. With center Chris Obekpa inactive due to a slight sprain ankle, five players reached double-figures for the Johnnies.

During the postgame, head coach Steve Lavin said, “This team has some balance and it’s a diverse group. We can go small, we can go big, we can play fast, we can pound it inside in the half court. We have more flexibility in our disposal then we had since my first year.”

Seniors guards D’Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene IV led the way for the Red Storm. Harrison recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds shooting 3-of-5 from 3-point territory. Phil Greene IV led the Johnnies with 21 points connecting on 4-of-5 from behind the arch. After a 6-point Red Storm lead at the half, the duo went a combined 7-for-7 from downtown as part of a 30-8 run pushing the Johnnies to a 28-point lead.

Senior forward Sir’Dominic Pointer proved to be a defensive anchor playing at the four and five position finishing with 13 points, grabbing six boards and blocking five shots. Sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan also made his defensive presence felt by recording six steals and adding 17 points.

In place of the injury, Chris Okepka who recorded a triple-double (22 points, 11 blocks, 10 rebounds) during the first exhibition matchup in a 95-83 win over Humboldt State, freshman center Adonis Delarosa provided a spark of the bench contributing 10 points and five rebounds to the Red Storm victory.

“We struggled early, but I thought the smaller group of four seniors and Rysheed made a nice run with the defensive pressure applied and pace that we are able to play at,” said head coach Steve Lavin. “Those seniors, along with Rysheed, had a good rhythm going in the second half and caught fire to let us pull away with the victory.”

Despite St. John’s starting off slowly in the first half trailing 26-17 with just over eight minutes left, the Johnnies closed out on a 26-11 run and forcing seven turnovers during that span. After a 43-37 lead at the half, St. John’s never looked back and drained its first seven 3-point attempts to take control the rest of the way. A 3-point jumper from freshman guard Myles Stewart followed by Jordan and-one layup allowed the Red Storm to open up its largest lead of the game 29 points, 87-58 at the 7:13 mark.

The Johnnies return back to action for their regular season opener on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. against New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) at Carnesecca Arena.