Online Exclusive: Men’s basketball takes opener

The St. John’s men’s basketball team, led by sophomore guard Larry Wright’s 19-point performance, held off St. Francis College Wednesday, Nov. 14, defeating the Terriers 72-64 in the home opener at Carnesecca Arena.

In the first half, St. John’s controlled the tempo of the game, leading by as much as 11 points at the 6:49 mark of the period. But after a lay-up by St. Francis’ senior forward Robert Hines, the Terriers cut the 11-point lead to only three to close the first half, 36-33. Hines finished with a double-double, 19 points and 12rebounds.

Early on in the second half, St. Francis took its only lead of the night at the 13:42 mark, leading St. John’s by two. The Terriers were able to tie the score five times during the second half alone, turning up the pressure on the Red Storm.

St. John’s battled for loose balls in an attempt to spark a run that would put the game out of reach for the Terriers. Freshman swingman D.J. Kennedy aided in scoring opportunities by grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds, 10 of which were defensive boards.

“Every team makes runs,” Wright said. “We responded well, we came back, we stayed poised. We stayed under control and just played together.”

St. John’s shifted the momentum back in its favor by maximizing on St. Francis’ turnovers and empty possessions. The Johnnies gained its largest lead of the game at the 4:09 mark of the second half. Senior guard Eugene Lawrence drained a three off an assist from junior big-man Tomas Jasiulionis to put the Johnnies up by 13 points, 65-52.

However, by the 3:52 mark, the Terriers began a 12-2 run and ended the run when senior guard Jamaal Womack nailed a three with 16 seconds remaining to bring the game within three points. But six seconds later Lawrence lobbed one to St. John’s freshman forward Justin Burrell for a dunk to preserve the win for the Red Storm.

“I thought our guys did a great job with being resilient, coming back when things weren’t going great,” said head coach Norm Roberts. “I really like the fight in the guys and the aggressiveness they show.”