Marcus Hatten has taken plenty of shots as a member of the Red Storm, but one shot he took against Fordham almost KO’d St. John’s chances at victory.
Hatten took the brunt of Rams behemoth center Glenn Batemon – who stands at 6-11, 340 pounds – and suffered a bloody nose and lip when Batemon’s elbow connected with Hatten’s face.
“I got caught reaching in on the big fella,” Hatten explained, “and he caught me with one of the humongous elbows.
“I wasn’t worried about it, I just wanted to get back into the game.”
The blow sent the star guard to the sideline but he returned to score 15 of his 21 points in the second half to lead the Johnnies (3-0) to an 81-58 win over the Rams (1-5) at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 7.
Both teams went back and forth for most of the first half, but St. John’s went on a 15-2 run that started at the 10-minute mark to give the visitors a 33-16 advantage.
Five different players scored during the spurt, including Elijah Ingram’s off-the-backboard pass that Hatten converted for a breakaway dunk.
Fordham’s Drew Williamson and Michael Haynes nailed three-pointers around a jumper by Kyle Cuffe, and another Hatten basket right before the break gave St. John’s a 37-23 half-time lead.
“Some of our young people responded very positively,” Fordham Head Coach Bob Hill said. “I thought the effort was there. Considering the youth on this team, I was really proud of them.”
The Rams charged out of the locker room and stayed within striking distance behind Williamson, who scored 10 of Fordham’s first 16 points in the second frame, part of an 8-0 run that closed the SJU lead to eight.
But the Red Storm responded with a 16-3 run, which started with Eric King’s three-point play and ended with back-to-back three-pointers by Hatten.
St. John’s was never really challenged the rest of the way, opening the lead to as many as 26 while harassing the Rams into 21 turnovers to give Fordham its fifth straight loss.
“Tonight’s game was a terrific team effort,” said St. John’s Associate Head Coach Kevin Clark, who was filling in for an absent Mike Jarvis, who was away from the team after the death of his brother. “They really did a nice job of sharing the ball and playing together as a team.”
The Red Storm had five players in double-figures – Hatten with 21, Anthony Glover chipped in 15, Ingram added 10 and King and Cuffe each had 11 – and 10 of the 12 Johnnies who got in the scored.
Andre Stanley had a team-best five assists and four steals in 19 minutes of action.
For the Rams, Williamson led the way with a career-high 18 and was followed by Batemon’s 14 and Haynes’ 13.
St. John’s will host St. Francis of New York tonight at Alumni Hall at 7:30 p.m.