St. John’s snaps Kong-sized skid

TAMPA, Fla. √¢?” It’s taken three head coaches, over two years, and a handful of near-misses, but St. John’s finally did something it hasn’t done in 25 previous tries: win a road game.


The Red Storm routed Big East newbie South Florida, 68-49, on Saturday night at the Sun Dome ending an atrocious road losing streak, bringing the team its first victory away from home since Nov. 29, 2003.


“I told the guys it’s like getting a monkey √¢?” then I said a gorilla √¢?” off our backs,” St. John’s coach Norm Roberts said. “We’ve come so close. We had a lot of tight ones last year, and then this year obviously, but we didn’t take [charge] like we should have.”


St. John’s took charge in this one.


The Red Storm went into the break with a 33-19 lead and never looked back from there, holding South Florida to 34.5 percent from the field for the game.


“The last three or four minutes of the first half is when things kind of got away,” South Florida coach Robert McCullum said. “You’re down double figures like that and you come out and you don’t really make some noise-and it becomes an uphill struggle.”


Mason Jr. and sophomore Eugene Lawrence scored 13 points each. Mason shot 4-of-5 from the field and also grabbed eight rebounds.


USF, which was led by McHugh Mattis and Solomon Jones, who scored 15 and 17,  respectively, did not fare as well.


Bulls senior James Holmes, who came into the game averaging 19 points per game, managed only four points with only one coming in the second half.


The Red Storm, on the other hand, benefited not only from the Bulls’ lackluster play, but also from the return of sophomore Daryll Hill, who had not played since Dec. 21 at Duke because of a left knee injury. Hill, who was averaging 13.7 points per game coming in, added eight points.


“It felt good to be back,” he said. “We played aggressive and that was the key.”


The Red Storm will next play against Louisville on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.


“We are getting better,” Roberts said. “We are just happy to have a chance to finally do this and now we’ll go from here.”