With all the frustrations that the St. John’s Red Storm had endured to this point in the season, defeating the Manhattan Jaspers Thursday night was imperative.
For the first twenty-eight minutes of the game, it looked like another frustrating loss was happening. At the half the Jaspers led 38-32 and in the first eight minutes of the second half the Japsers remained ahead taking a 49-43 lead with 12:02 remaining.
After Durelle Brown’s three-pointer increased the lead to six, SJU reeled off eight consecutive points and took the lead for good on Kyle Cuffe slam on a bounce pass from Omar Cook with 9:39 remaining. The Red Storm never looked back as it won 72-63.
The win gets SJU back to the .500 mark (5-5) and the Jaspers drop to 3-4. This victory also ends St. John’s three game losing streak. Its last such losing streak occured during the 1996-1997 season. In a stretch from 1/21 to 2/9, the Red Storm lost six straight.
“We executed well when we had to down the stretch,” Head Coach Mike Jarvis said. “I think some individuals made some very good adjustments, namely Anthony (Glover) in the second and the guys hung together and won a basketball game which in these days especially for us right now, is not all that easy.”
Point guard Omar Cook came out of his shooting slump to lead the Red Storm with 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting.
Manhattan Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez found Cook’s play to be difficult to handle for his team. “We like to press, when we can,” he said. “Omar Cook is hard to press, one time he went through us like Grant through Richmond.”
In addition to Cook the Johnnies also received another solid effort from freshman Willie Shaw. He scored 19 points on 7-of-11 from the field and connected on three treys.
“Willie has been as dependable and steady as anyone” Jarvis said.
Jarvis used a different starting lineup against the Jaspers with Sharif Fordham starting in place of the slumping Reggie Jessie. Jessie wound up only playing 12 minutes.
“For me it was very difficult (to sit Jessie down),” Jarvis said. “I also know that Reggie is going to be here for us.”
Another change to the lineup was the role of freshman center Mohamed Diakite’s. Although he started the game, he played only five minutes as Donald Emanuel and Kyle Cuffe shared the center duties most of the game.
“Tonight was a night for a little more experience,” Jarvis said. “Mohamed is the center of the future, he’s got a lot to learn and tonight I couldn’t afford to let him learn on the court.
For one game SJU got a monkey of its back by winning over Manhattan. It makes the holidays better for Anthony Glover and the rest of the team. But by no means is Glover satisfied.
“Like Coach said, for me it’s going to make Christmas much better,” Glover said. “I don’t think it’s a big relief because we all have to get back in the gym and work on the things we need to win other games.”
With the win over Manhattan, St. John’s extends its Alumni Hall winning streak to 25 games.