The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

St. John’s Dominates Holy Cross, Securing a 91-45 Victory

In his debut, sophomore guard RJ Luis Jr. put up an impressive 14 points.
RJ Luis Jr. put up 14 points in his Carnesecca Arena debut.
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

In a Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the Red Storm defeated the Holy Cross Crusaders, 91-45. Displaying the prowess of their roster both on and off the bench, the team saw a rising star in sophomore forward RJ Luis Jr. in his first appearance for the Johnnies. 

The Nov. 25 game was a sold-out crowd of 5,602 at Carnesecca Arena, complete with an appearance by NBA All-Star Kevin Durant. 

Despite suffering a broken hand in an October open practice, the UMass transfer put up 14 points, four rebounds and three steals. Reflecting on his journey to full health after a stellar performance Luis said, “Humbly, I think that tonight was 40 percent.” 

“It’s been a long seven weeks. It’s had its pros and cons,” Luis continued. “It allowed me to sit out of practice, learn my teammates’ tendencies and gave me an outside view of how Coach P wants us playing. I just got my feet wet tonight and will just keep on improving.” 

In the game’s first minutes, the Crusaders improved to an 18-10 lead, but the Johnnies swiftly responded with a commanding 34-10 run, seizing the court for the remainder of the game. 

“When it [the score] was 20-20, I liked how we stayed with our game plan. We said ‘We are going to have our run, don’t panic,’” head coach Rick Pitino said postgame. “Then, when you have the lead, play fundamental basketball, which we did do because we made a point of emphasis to not turn the ball over… That’s the way you must play basketball.”

The Johnnies entered halftime with a 44-28 lead, propelled by a 12-0 run with six minutes remaining. The first half saw the Red Storm shooting 58% from the field, with senior center Joel Soriano scoring 12 of his team-high 16 points succeeded by graduate forward Chris Ledlum with 10. 

Kevin Durant made an appearance at the Nov. 25 game.
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

The second half saw the team’s energy surge on both ends of the court, holding Holy Cross to a mere seven points in 10 minutes and extending their lead to 33. The Red Storm maintained their dominance, finishing with a resounding 46-point lead, their most impressive of the season. 

The victory also saw an impressive 45 points from the bench, with Simeon Wilcher, Zuby Ejiofor, Nahiem Alleyne, Sean Conway, Cruz Davis, Drissa Traore and Brady Dunlap all making significant contributions in the game.

Wilcher and Ejiofor led the bench in minutes with 19 and 17 minutes, respectively. 

“I’m not afraid to play any of those guys,” Pitino said. “All these guys are still learning. If we are in a war with West Virginia, I have no problem putting Simeon or Brady in the game at any time.”

“They all played really good defense,” Pitino continued. “They all rooted for each other. It was great.” 

Wilcher, the freshman guard from New Jersey, scored five points, three rebounds and five assists. Postgame, Pitino applauded his play offensively and defensively. 

“I don’t worry how much I’m playing now because it’s Coach [Pitino],” Wilcher said. “I’m just really trusting him. I’m just happy he believes in me enough to put me out there today.” 

The Red Storm advance to 4-2 after Saturday’s win and will embark on a lighter schedule, facing the 2-3 West Virginia Mountaineers at the WVU Coliseum on Dec. 1.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Seaman, Managing Editor
Olivia is a junior journalism student serving her second year as Managing Editor. Outside of The Torch, she is a student ambassador and an Undergraduate Writing Consultant at the University Writing Center. You can find her with a matcha latte in hand, listening to SZA and watching St. John's basketball. Olivia can be reached at [email protected]

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