St John's Seton Hall
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In an important Big East bubble game, the St. John’s Red Storm got out to a 23-point lead and hung on to defeat Seton Hall, 78-70.

Ricky Keeler

After losing to Seton Hall in controversial fashion in December, the St. John’s Red Storm had revenge on their mind Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Well, they served up revenge on the Pirates by taking a 28-5 lead in the first nine minutes of the game. Seton Hall fought back, but the Red Storm were able to hang on for their 20th win of the season and they took over 3rd place in the Big East standings.

For the past few games, Shamorie Ponds was in a shooting slump, but he snapped out of it and once again performed on the big stage. The point guard had 27 points on 10-for-18 from the floor with three rebounds, five assists, and five steals.

While Ponds only made one three-pointer in nine attempts, he was able to get off to a fast start, which is something the Red Storm desperately needed after their 19-point loss to Providence on Wednesday. Plus, he got his teammates involved, especially Marvin Clark II, who was honored as part of Senior Night at Madison Square Garden.

Clark II, who had no points in two of his last five games coming in, broke out in a big way. He had 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting and made four of his eight shots from downtown. He was able to avoid foul trouble and combine with Ponds to outscore Seton Hall in the first half (24-20).

Now, St. John’s did have their fair share of struggles on offense against the zone when Seton Hall went to it. However, the Pirates were sloppy with the basketball as St. John’s forced 22 turnovers and they were able to limit Seton Hall’s points in the paint thanks to 12 blocked shots (season-high).

All season long, the bench hasn’t given St. John’s much in terms of point production. On Saturday, they got 11 points from the bench, but the most important stat was that 10 of the team’s 12 blocks came from the reserves. Sedee Keita led the second unit with six points, four rebounds, three assists, and four blocked shots.

Since St. John’s got out to a big lead, Coach Chris Mullin was able to give some playing time to the freshmen on the squad and they chipped in on the defensive effort. Marcellus Earlington and Greg Williams Jr. each had three blocks apiece.

St. John's Basketball

Speaking of defense, Justin Simon and company deserve credit for making Myles Powell earn every one of his 26 points. Powell only had four points in the first half and turned the ball over six times for the game. Simon did battle foul trouble in the second half, so that helped Powell get in a rhythm as Seton Hall did cut the lead to five with 1:01 left in the game. However, that’s as close as they would get.

In the big picture, this win was huge for St. John’s. For starters, they proved that they could win a big game without Mustapha Heron in the lineup. Heron missed the game due to a knee injury:

With the win, the Red Storm reach the 20-win mark for the first time since the 2014-15 season, which was their last visit to the NCAA Tournament. They were able to avoid being swept by Seton Hall and it adds another quality win to the resume while the Pirates get pushed closer to the bubble with three games left in the regular season.

Since St. John’s is finished with the tough portion of their conference schedule, they have the inside track at the number three seed in the upcoming Big East Tournament. Once again, the team showed up when the stage was at its brightest and their hot start left another reminder of what this group is capable of when clicking on all cylinders.

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