No. 6/6 Xavier Withstands St. John's, 73-68

Shamorie Ponds entered the 1,000-point club with 31 points on the evening
Shamorie Ponds entered the 1,000-point club with 31 points on the evening
Jan. 31, 2018

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QUEENS, N.Y. - Playing its highest ranked opponent on campus in nearly four decades, the St. John's men's basketball team held a late lead against one of the nation's top teams before falling to No. 6/6 Xavier, 73-68, on Tuesday night at Carnesecca Arena.

After tying the game at 67 on a Marvin Clark II 3-pointer with just over two minutes to go, the Red Storm saw Xavier score six of the game's final seven points down the stretch to close it out.

Shamorie Ponds joined an elite fraternity against the Musketeers (20-3, 8-2), becoming the 51st member of the 1,000-point club at St. John's with 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting to go along with five rebounds and five assists. The Brooklyn native became only the 10th player in program history to reach the milestone in just his second season with the Red Storm. In addition to his offensive efforts, Ponds also tied a career high with six steals.

Clark finished one off his career high, netting 19 points thanks in large part to a 4-of-9 showing from beyond the arc.

Bashir Ahmed tallied his second double-double of the season and the third of his career, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 boards.

The last time the Johnnies (10-13, 0-11) played an opponent on campus ranked inside the top six of the Associated Press Poll came on Feb. 16, 1980, when No. 2 Syracuse topped No. 7 St. John's, 72-71, inside Alumni Hall.

The Red Storm found it hard to miss in the early going, making each of its first four shots and six of its first eight overall to take a 14-8 lead at the game's first media stoppage with just under five minutes gone in the contest.

Leading 17-11 following a Ponds three with 13 minutes to go in the half, the Johnnies saw the Musketeers rattle off a 12-0 run, regaining the lead by six, 23-17, just over four minutes later. The Johnnies were held without a point for 5:04 during the Xavier tear.

The Red Storm pulled back within a pair, 30-28, following an old-fashioned three-point play from Ponds with 4:41 to play, but the Musketeers outscored St. John's down the stretch to take a 37-32 lead into the locker room after 20 minutes.

Trailing by five, 43-38, with just over three minutes gone in the latter stanza, the Red Storm uncorked a 7-0 run in the span only 57 seconds, climbing ahead by a pair forcing a Xavier timeout with 15:35 to go. Ahmed kicked off the spurt with a three from the wing before Ponds and Justin Simon added fastbreak layups.

The Red Storm converted on seven-straight field goal attempts during the middle minutes of the latter stanza.

Trailing by four, 55-51, following a Ponds fade-away bank shot, Xavier scored the game's next five points, reclaiming the lead at 56-55 with 6:43 to go. St. John's tied the game with a 1-of-2 trip to the line from Amar Alibegovic, but Quentin Goodin answered with a triple to move ahead by three, 59-56, with 6:12 remaining.

After Xavier extended its lead to five, 61-56, the Red Storm scored five of the game's next seven points, pulling within a pair, 63-61. Simon had an opportunity to knot the game at 63 with a two-shot trip to the line, but missed both to preserve the Musketeers' advantage. Kerem Kanter then knocked down a runner on the other end, pushing the Xavier lead back to four.

Facing another late-game deficit, St. John's dug deep and ripped off a 6-2 spurt, knotting the game at 67 on a Clark three-ball with 2:12 to play.

After alternating turnovers on consecutive possessions, J.P. Macura, who was held to 11 points and six turnovers, missed a 3-pointer and it looked as if St. John's had grabbed the board, but Ahmed was whistled for his fourth foul during the fight for the loose ball. Trevon Bluiett subsequently knocked down both of his free throws.

On the ensuing possession, Ahmed was fouled and made just one of his two free throw attempts, giving Xavier the ball back with a one-point lead and 42 seconds to go. After working down the shot clock, Kanter sent a floater toward the rim that was ruled goaltending by Tariq Owens after a close attempt to block it, giving the Musketeers a 71-68 edge.

Following a turnover on the other end, Bluiett converted both of his tries from the charity stripe, giving Xavier the 73-68 lead with which it would end the contest.

St. John's returns to action for its second of three-straight against top 10 foes on Saturday, welcoming No. 4/5 Duke to "The World's Most Famous Arena" for a 12 p.m. tip.




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