No lead blown against CSU

Daryll Hill didn’t decide until that morning if he would play against Charleston Southern on Saturday night.

With Hill not playing because of a bad left knee, St. John’s didn’t score for the last eight minutes in a loss to Hofstra on Nov. 29.

Things were looking very similar to that game for the Red Storm, as it took the same halftime lead (13 points) against the Buccaneers on Saturday as it did against the Pride and again came out slowly after the break again.

Luckily, Hill decided his knee was well enough, slipped a black sleeve over his calf, and scored 11 of his team-high 15 points in the second half to lead St. John’s over Charleston Southern, 64-50.

“One of the keys for us: Daryll makes plays,” St. John’s coach Norm Roberts said. “He makes plays even when they’re not there.”

Roberts’ team did not look all there in the early stages of the second half. A 34-21 halftime lead dwindled down to 39-35 with 14:40 left after Charleston Southern’s Carter Stiglbauer scored on a layup five seconds after St. John’s sophomore Dexter Gray tipped in a Lamont Hamilton miss.

“I thought we had a couple of lulls,” Roberts said.

The whole second half must have been a lull for the Red Storm against Hofstra. St. John’s (4-1) went into the half with a 40-27 lead, only to be out-scored 37 to 11 after halftime en route to a 64-51 loss. But it was only the beginning of the second half where the Johnnies looked lax against Charleston Southern (4-2).

“I sensed in the second half when we came out, we were a little flat,” St. John’s sophomore Eugene Lawrence said.

But the Buccaneers never did get closer than four.

The Red Storm out-rebounded the Big South squad, 45 to 33, led by eight rebounds apiece from Hamilton and freshman Anthony Mason Jr.

Hamilton, a junior, was a major force in the paint too, where St. John’s out-scored Charleston Southern, 32-18.

The 6-foot-10 Brooklyn native scored 14 points, most of them on dunks and layups in close against undersized Buccaneers defenders.

Hill, who decided Saturday morning that he would play, was only 2-of-4 from the field in the first half, but began to get more aggressive in the second.

He only finished 5-of-11 from the floor, but was more comfortable driving the lane and drawing contact.

He was 5-of-6 from the free-throw line with all six of his attempts coming after the break.

The 6-foot Cardozo product’s calf had actually been cramping up because of undue pressure brought upon by the injured knee, he said.

Still, both the knee and calf were good to go against Charleston Southern – a decision made by Hill for one reason.

“If I can play defense,” Hill said, “I feel I can go.”