Dec. 1, 2010
QUEENS, N.Y. - What the Red Storm lacked in offensive accuracy on Wednesday night, it made up for in defensive aggression. St. John's shot a season-low 36.1 percent from the field, but forced a season-high 21 turnovers and made 15 steals - the most since March 1, 2005 - to outlast Wagner, 69-61, and run its current win streak to five-straight.
St. John's scored 21 points off turnovers, forcing the same amount of miscues as the Red Storm did in a 52-50 victory over Cincinnati at The Garden last Jan. 13. The gaudy number of thefts were the most since STJ amassed as many in a loss at Providence six seasons ago. St. John's defense, and the Red Storm's ability to capitalize on it, offset a 22-of-61 mark from the field, a 3-of-17 performance from 3-point range (17.6 percent) and a 22-of-36 effort from the free throw line (61.1 percent).
"We left 14 potential points from the charity stripe that were wasted and we were 3-of-17 from long range. We have to improve in those two areas as well as our execution, which I think could have been more crisp. It was different things throughout the game," said St. John's first year head coach Steve Lavin. "But the good news is we found a way to win, and considering the alternative, that's a positive and we'll take it."
Senior D.J. Kennedy, who now has started 99 of a possible 103 career games, came off the bench to lead all St. John's players with a season-high 20 points. He made 6-of-12 field goals, 2-of-4 3-pointers and 6-of-8 free throws and added six rebounds and two steals. Justin Brownlee, who also played a reserve role, scored 17 on a 7-of-12 effort from the floor, made all three free throw attempts, grabbed six boards, dished two assists and snatched a pair of steals. Dwight Hardy, who struggled from the field at 2-of-7 but made all five of his free throws, was the only other Red Storm player in double-figures with 10 points.
Paris Horne (six points, career-high eight rebounds, two steals), Justin Burrell (three points, five boards) and Malik Stith (two points, two boards, one assist) made their first starts of the season, a change from the first five games of the year. Lavin attributed the change in starting lineup to a "combination of three things," including rewarding some players, and motivating others in terms of on and off-court performance.
St. John's missed its first five shots, while Wagner used a pair of 3s to jump out to an early 6-0 lead. The Red Storm answered quickly and a trio of Hardy free throws at the 14:12 mark gave the squad its first lead of the game, 9-8. A Brownlee fastbreak layup plus a free throw then broke a 13-13 tie and opened a quick 9-2 run which was capped by a Hardy 3-pointer and gave the Red Storm a 22-15 lead with 9:20 remaining. Brownlee went on to score six more points in the opening frame, giving him nine in just 11 minutes on the floor, while a Kennedy 3 with less than a minute in the half gave St. John's a 36-26 lead at the break. The Red Storm opened the second stanza on a 10-4 run and led by as many as 16, but the determined Seahawks chiseled the margin to four on two occasions. St. John's closed the game on a 7-3 run over the final 4:33 to seal the victory.
After all of its travels, the Red Storm gets nearly a week's respite, returning to the hardwood Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. to meet St. Bonaventure at Carnesecca Arena. That game will be televised live in the New York area on SNY.