Nov. 6, 2010
QUEENS, N.Y. - Twelve St. John's players saw game action, 10 found their way into the scoring column and five finished in double-figures as the Red Storm began the Steve Lavin Era with a 100-42 exhibition victory over Westmont. Brandishing a fast-paced offense, a suffocating press in transition and a stingy match-up zone on the defensive end of the floor, St. John's outraced and wore down the Warriors, a highly-regarded NAIA squad from Santa Barbara, Calif.
"I haven't had the time to look at all the numbers in term of our statistics, but clearly it was a step in the right direction. We clearly built on our preseason efforts in terms of sharing the basketball, and 30 assists are a good indication of that," said Lavin. "I think they really looked for each other. There were some great sequences where that second, third or fourth extra pass led to somebody getting a good look."
As a team, the Red Storm established its dominance early, indeed putting up impressive numbers. For the game, St. John's connected on 61.5 percent of its field goals (40-of-65) while limiting the Warriors to 33.3 percent (16-of-48), and drilled 50.0 percent of its 3-point attempts (9-of-18) while stifling Westmont's trademark long-range game to only 14.3 percent (4-of-28). St. John's posted a 39-26 rebounding margin and dealt 30 assists to only 11 turnovers. The Red Storm forced 27 Warrior miscues, made 17 steals and capitalized to the tune of a 43-2 advantage in points off turnovers.
Senior forward Justin Brownlee, in the starting lineup Saturday after making only three starts last season, led the way with 18 points on 8-of-10 field goals. Classmate Dwight Hardy registered 15 points via a 6-of-10 shooting night that included a 3-of-5 effort from long-distance, while rookie starter Dwayne Polee II and senior guard Paris Horne - who came off the bench but led all STJ players with a game-high 25 minutes - contributed 12 points apiece. Meanwhile, senior swingman D.J. Kennedy added 10 points and six assists, incumbent floor general Malik Boothe barely missed a double-double with nine points, 12 assists (to only two turnovers) and six steals and veteran forward Sean Evans contributed seven points and nine boards in 18 minutes off the bench.
Beginning with a Boothe 3-pointer, St. John's made its first eight shots in the game and opened on a 16-0 run that would set the tone for an incendiary first half. Brownlee's 15 points - punctuated by a pair of emphatic dunks - helped St. John's hit on 64.7 percent of its field goals (22-of-34) in the opening frame. Boothe finished the half with seven points, six steals and 10 assists, including a pass that led to a Horne layup to give St. John's its largest lead of the first half, a 41-point cushion with 15 seconds remaining. The Red Storm, which turned 16 Westmont turnovers into 28 points, took a 59-20 lead into halftime.
Westmont's Blake Bender was the lone Warrior in double-figures with 13 points.
The Lavin Era officially begins on the road and on national television, as St. John's will take on 2010 NCAA Tournament participant Saint Mary's (Calif.) at the Gaels' home in Moraga, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 2 a.m. E.T. The matchup is the second game of ESPN's third annual College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, which features 12 live college basketball games in 24 consecutive hours on the network. The Red Storm meets the Columbia Lions in St. John's home opener 40 hours after the Saint Mary's game ends, on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. E.T. in Queens.
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