St. John's Pulls Away Late To Defeat UMBC, 75-53|
Nov. 16, 2015
QUEENS, N.Y. - Freshman Federico Mussini (Reggio Emilia, Italy) scored a game-high 18 points and handed out six assists to help lead St. John's to its second-straight victory, defeating UMBC, 75-53, on Monday at Carnesecca Arena. Ron Mvouika (Paris, France) added 16 points and Durand Johnson (Baltimore, Md.) had 15 points, shooting a combined 13-of-19 from the field in the Red Storm's homeland contest of the 32nd annual Maui Jim Maui Invitational.
St. John's (2-0) finished the night with a 51.9 (27-of-52) field goal shooting percentage after heating up in the second half by going 15-of-26 from the floor (57.7 percent). Mussini knocked down all eight free-throw attempts to anchor an 82.4 percent (14-of-17) effort at the line.
Mvouika was perfect from downtown, sinking four 3-pointers and shooting 6-for-7 from the floor. Johnson scored all of his points in the second half, hitting 7-of-10 field goal attempts in the stanza.
"Durand and Ron were big time tonight," said St. John's Head Coach Chris Mullin. "They played like the leaders that we need them to be. We don't have a deep bench right now so we need contributions from everybody. Durand struggled in the first half, but that just shows you his experience."
"In the first half I had a rocky start, but I came out in the second half and I was aggressive," said Johnson. "Ron Mvouika came to me [at halftime] and said, `let the first half go and play your game right now.'"
Rodney Elliott and Joe Sherburne posted 16 points apiece for UMBC (0-2). The Retrievers were held to a 26.9 percent (18-of-67) shooting mark and 27.6 percent (8-of-29) from distance. Cody Joyce added seven points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
"Our defense is going to dictate our offense," said Mvouika "We're still learning how to play with each other. On the defensive side, I think we did a great job tonight. Right now we're focused on one play at a time."
A nine-point Red Storm lead at the break was cut to two, 33-31, less than three minutes into the second half as the Retrievers made four of their first five shots. Johnson then caught fire, scoring eight-straight points for the Red Storm as the home squad pushed the lead back to seven, 41-34, at the 13:42 mark.
Johnson later converted a fastbreak layup before a no-look pass from Mussini set up Mvouika for a corner trey that gave St. John's a 52-40 lead with just 8:52 on the clock. St. John's closed the game on a 10-0 run to the push the lead to 22. The spurt featured Mvouika's fourth 3-pointer of the game and a fastbreak slam by Christian Jones (Arlington, Texas).
The Red Storm opened the game just 1-of-6 from the floor as both teams struggled early. The game was tied at just 2-2 at the 15:24 mark before St. John's made its next five field goals. A Darien Williams (San Francisco, Calif.) 3-pointer opened up a 13-6 advantage and the Red Storm did not look back. Amar Alibegovic (Rome, Italy) and Mvouika added 3s as St. John's led by as many as 12 points in the first half.
Jones finished with seven points on 3-for-6 shooting, seven rebounds and two steals. Freshman center Yankuba Sima (Girona, Spain) contributed eight points, nine rebounds and swatted four shots in 19 minutes of action.
St. John's wraps up a three-game home stretch on Thursday against Rutgers for the inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games. Tim Brando and Bill Raftery are on the call for FS1's national broadcast at 7 p.m.