Nov. 15, 2012
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - D'Angelo Harrison said St. John's experience is starting to show, even if the Red Storm still plays mostly freshmen and sophomores.
Harrison scored 21 points and St. John's (2-0) took a big lead early and hung on for a 64-53 victory over College of Charleston at the Charleston Classic on Thursday.
The Red Storm needed to rally on Tuesday night in their opener to beat Detroit 77-74. This time, the young team showed the poise of a veteran group to keep building the lead and responding each time Charleston (1-1) tried to tighten things up.
"We're starting to get that experience on the road," Harrison said. Ten of the 13 members of St. John's roster are underclassmen.
The Red Storm didn't win many games last season away from New York City, counting only victories at Cincinnati and DePaul. Yet, Harrison said he and his teammates took away plenty of lessons they used at the TD Arena.
"We were much more calm out there," said Harrison, who scored 22 points in the season-opening win over Detroit earlier this week.
St. John's coach Steve Lavin praised his team's effort, particularly the balance they showed between aggressiveness on offense and intelligence on defense. "They not only showed athleticism and quickness but smart basketball, too," he said.
The Red Storm opened up an 11-point lead midway through the first half and were not pushed by the Cougars, who are hosting the eight-team event.
Harrison had a 3-pointer and seven quick points to put St. John's ahead 22-11 with less than six minutes gone. College of Charleston never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Nori Johnson led the Cougars with 11 points while Trent Wiedeman had 10. The two programs had never played before although they share some significant connections. College of Charleston's basketball architect, coach John Kresse, played at St. John's for Red Storm great Joe Lapchick and was an assistant for Lou Carnesecca.
Kresse came down South, "Noo Yawk" accent intact, and turned the Cougars into giant killers _ most notably defeating Maryland in the 1997 NCAA tournament before nearly toppling eventual champ Arizona in a 73-69 loss.
Kresse spoke with the Red Storm players at Lavin's invitation, sharing stories of the program that he is trying to rebuild. "He gave us a little history," Lavin said.
The TD Arena court is named after Kresse, who watched from the stands and was congratulated by people on both sides.
Also in the stands was former Cougars' coach Bobby Cremins, who grew up in New York City before finding success on and off the court down South.
St. John's is in the midst of a four-game opening week, following up Tuesday's win over Detroit with three games in Charleston. The Red Storm didn't look like they had tired legs, though, running right from the opening tip.
St. John's opened up a 22-11 lead with nine minutes left in the half. The lead grew to 32-18 in the opening half before the Cougars trimmed it to 10 points at the break.
The Red Storm kept the pressure up in the second half and Charleston struggled to stay in the game.
The Cougars' top player, Andrew Lawrence, was not at his best. Lawrence, the youngest member of the British Olympic basketball team at the London Olympics this summer, was just 1 of 5 from the floor deep into the second half. Lawrence finished 3-of-7 with seven points.