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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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St. John’s Takes Down Streaking Monmouth, 88-83

TORCH PHOTO/ Brady Snyder
TORCH PHOTO/ Brady Snyder

St. John’s played a hard-fought game with Monmouth at Carnesecca Arena on Thursday, Dec. 9, fending off the Hawks’ scoring runs down the stretch. It ends Monmouth’s seven game win streak and secures the first Quad 2 win of the season. 

Monmouth came out firing from distance against a St. John’s team that has displayed poor perimeter defense in the early season. They attempted five three-point goals before the first media timeout — making two — while the Red Storm couldn’t get one of their own. 

It wasn’t a problem for the Johnnies, who relied on their strong paint presence to keep a hold on the game in the first half. The new-look starting lineup featured sophomore Dylan Addae-Wusu running the point with traditional point guard Posh Alexander working off the ball. It’s something the team tried in their last win against Fordham, and the success carried over versus the Hawks. 

The defense forced turnovers early, notably in transition, but the offense struggled to handle the ball cleanly. The Johnnies returned the ball right back to Monmouth on a few occasions and couldn’t finish at the rim on others. It made what could have been an early double-digit advantage over a solid Hawks team into a back-and-forth first half. 

But when it mattered, they finished at the rim, hit timely three-pointers and played tight defense. The usual “heart and hustle” guys, Alexander and Addae-Wusu, showed tenacity under the basket. It resulted not only in field goals for the Red Storm, but crucial foul calls as well.

For a few minutes, Anderson experimented with a starting five that featured two big men, Esahia Nyiwe and O’Mar Stanley. Even with a bigger lineup, the Johnnies could not pull down offensive rebounds in the paint. “Our guys did a good job getting [the ball] in transition,” Anderson said in a postgame media conference. “[Stanley] can finish at the basket.”

The former Seton Hall point guard Shavar Reynolds Jr. was scorching hot to start the night, leading all scorers with 19 points in the first half. After tremendous pressure from the Red Storm defense, Reynolds Jr. continued to find open space on the perimeter with five made three-point baskets in the first. 

The Johnnies were up against one of the most successful free-throw shooting teams in the country — Monmouth shot at an 81.5 percent clip, good for third in the NCAA — but bested them early on. St. John’s went ten for 12 from the line enroute to a six point halftime lead. 

The team came back out of the locker room with sloppy play to start, with quick fouls and a turnover. They quickly found their stride after forcing a turnover and tipping in a transition layup. Two three-pointers by Montez Mathis and Julian Champagnie gave St. John’s their largest lead of the night, but the Hawks kept it close with deep shots of their own. 

Champagnie, who had been held in check in the first half, finally started to break through. Though still inefficient from three-point range, the junior forward found ways to score inside the arc. The crowd at Carnesecca Arena erupted after a Stef Smith steal set up a slam for Champagnie.

Smith didn’t stop with a steal and a solid defensive effort off of the bench. He returned on the offensive side of the ball with eight points in under three minutes, sinking two three-point baskets to keep the Johnnies ahead. “He’ll get out there, and he’ll fight you,” Anderson said. “That’s what I’m looking for.”

The Hawks would get as close as two points with under a minute remaining in regulation, but a hustle play by Alexander saved the game. After Addae-Wusu missed a free throw, Alexander forced a turnover and threw the ball against Monmouth’s Nikkei Rutty out of bounds. After the mandatory review, the call was confirmed as St. John’s ball with 11 seconds left, all but ensuring the Red Storm would hold on. “I was just thinking about winning the game,” Alexander said. 

Alexander’s coach and teammates praised the sophomore’s heart and ball awareness after the game. “It’s a special trait that not a lot of people have,” Champagnie said. “We’re fortunate enough to have him to make those kinds of plays for us, especially when we need them.”

It was an all-around team win for the Johnnies, who saw nine players play significant minutes compared to just six in their last outing versus Fordham. Nyiwe — who gave two fouls in the first half and a third early in the second — played less minutes and gave an expanded role to Joel Soriano and Stanley. 

The absences for St. John’s were Aaron Wheeler and Tareq Coburn, who contributed early but have stalled of late. Anderson says they are healthy and that “it’ll be [their] time next game.” 

The Thursday night win versus Monmouth was the first of a three-game set in the Gotham Classic tournament. St. John’s will go on to face Colgate at 12 p.m. Sunday and Pittsburgh in the Madison Square Garden finale on Dec. 18. 

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About the Contributor
Brady Snyder
Brady Snyder, Editor-in-Chief
Brady is a senior journalism student currently serving as Editor-in-Chief. He joined The Torch in 2021, and previously served as Sports Editor. Outside of The Torch, Brady covers consumer technology and new innovations for ScreenRant, where he has nearly 100 published articles. When he isn’t writing, Brady is usually running or catching a sporting event. Brady can be reached at [email protected]
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