SJU downs Farleigh Dickinson

Sunday night, the St. John’s men’s basketball team took on Farleigh Dickinson University in what began as a bucket-for-bucket battle at Carnesecca Arena, but ultimately turned into a 92-67 win for the Red Storm.

Both the Knights (1-4) and the Johnnies (3-0) exhibited stellar performances on the perimeter, each team having four players notching at least one shot from downtown.

St. John’s senior guard Eugene Lawrence led all scorers with 20 points and a game high nine assists. He was 6-of-10 from the field, and perfect from the charity stripe. Lawrence showed veteran leadership at the point dishing out accurate passes, including two no-look backward bounce passes that led to crucial points for the Johnnies.

“I just try to do things I do in practice and try to do it in the game,” said Lawrence.

The Knights controlled the tempo of the first half offensively, although neither side pressured the ball effectively on defense. St. John’s went on an 11-2 run, as Farleigh Dickenson turned over the ball and missed jumpers. But, the Knights slowly worked their way back into the game taking their first lead at the 6:25 mark, 24-26.

Because neither team buckled down on defense, the game became a shooting contest. Farleigh Dickinson was up by two at the close of the first half, 45-42. The Knights went on 8-of-13 shooting from the arc, while the Johnnies hit 6-of-11 from the perimeter. By the half, the Johnnies had collectively dished 10 handouts, with Lawrence leading with four.

“We kind of got into a part game where they’re scoring, we’re scoring and nobody is playing any defense,” said head coach Norm Roberts. “I thought our guys did a great job at coming out in the second half and really locking in defensively.”

In the second half, St. John’s was down by as much as five in the opening minute of the game until the Red Storm changed the flow of their offense. The Johnnies played a more complete game, closing down on the Knights defensively and holding them to only 2-of-11 from downtown. .

A power dunk by St. John’s freshmen forward Justin Burrell at the 17:42 mark brought St. John’s within two, 51-49, Farleigh Dickinson. Burrell, en route to his second career double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, sparked a 33-9 run. This run included a scoreless seven minutes for the Knights, until Farleigh Dickinson’s Bernell Murray hit a midrange jumper to make the score 80-60.

The Red Storm saw major contributions from sophomore guard Larry Wright, who connected on 6-of-8 from the perimeter and finished with 18 points.

“I try to come out and give my team a lot of energy and pick the pressure up during hard times,” said Wright.

Freshman forward D.J. Kennedy helped out in crucial times, whether it was being active off the defensive glass or scoring the needed two. Kennedy finished with 18 points, six rebounds, and two assists.

With the Johnnies in the zone, the game was out of reach for the Knights. St. John’s was up by as much as 27 points after a three pointer by sophomore walk-on Matt Duell with 51 seconds remaining in regulation.

After being out-rebounded in the first half, the Johnnies came back to control the boards finishing with 36 (11 of which were offensive boards), while the Knights grabbed 27. St. John’s dominated the paint with 38 points in the middle and converting Farleigh Dickenson’s 14 turnovers into 24 points. The Johnnies finished 54.8% from the field and 52.4% from the arc.