St. John's Upends Cal State Northridge, 76-70

Shamorie Ponds dropped a career-high 25 points on Monday night against CSUN
Dec. 5, 2016

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QUEENS, N.Y. - Playing without the services of its leading scorer, the St. John's men's basketball team held on for a hard-fought victory on Monday night, defeating Cal State Northridge, 76-70, at Carnesecca Arena.

With Marcus LoVett sidelined due to injury, backcourt mate Shamorie Ponds rose to the occasion and tallied a career-high 25 points for the Red Storm (4-5), connecting on 10 of his 18 shots from the floor while also dishing out a game-high five assists.

Three other Johnnies finished in double figures, led by Bashir Ahmed with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Eight of Ahmed's 12 points came from the free-throw line, including a number of key makes down the stretch.

Federico Mussini made four first-half triples to finish with 12 points, while Malik Ellison added 10 points, five assists and four boards.

Redshirt sophomore forward Tariq Owens contributed significantly to the Red Storm's winning effort once again, scoring five points, grabbing seven rebounds and registering a game-high four blocks.

As a team, the Red Storm sank 10 or more three pointers for the sixth time this season, hitting 10 of its 21 tries from beyond the arc. The Matadors (3-6), on the other hand, made just two of their 14 attempts from downtown.

After a back-and-forth beginning to the contest that saw a number of lead changes, the Red Storm found itself down 20-16 with 8:32 remaining until the break. From there, five points from Ellison and an Amar Alibegovic 3-pointer highlighted an 8-2 run for the Red Storm, giving the Johnnies a 24-22 advantage just 90 seconds later.

Following four-straight free throws from CSUN to pull ahead by two, 26-24, with 6:18 to play in the stanza, Mussini put on a masterful performance from beyond the arc, sinking three triples in the span of just 51 seconds to spark a 14-3 St. John's run that saw the Johnnies move ahead by nine, 38-29, with 2:08 remaining in the opening half.

CSUN narrowed the deficit to four over the waning minutes of the period and the Red Storm entered the break with a 40-36 advantage.

Leading 47-40 with 16:37 to go in the second half, the Johnnies saw CSUN storm back and tie the contest at 47 less than three minutes later. From there, Ponds and Owens combined for eight unanswered, as Ponds netted five points and Owens added three to give the Red Storm a 55-47 lead with 12:20 remaining. Owens rattled off the game's most highlight-worthy play in this series, making an acrobatic steal at midcourt and dishing it off to Ellison before retaking possession and slamming it home on the break.

The Matadors battled back from behind once again, firing off a 7-1 spurt and taking its first lead of the half, 62-61, with 6:51 on the clock.

Trailing for the first time in over 18 minutes, the Red Storm locked down on the defensive end, forcing a number of turnovers and holding the Matadors scoreless for three and a half minutes. On the opposite end, the Johnnies began to get to the line with consistency, making five free throws on a 7-0 run to move ahead by six, 68-62, with just over four minutes remaining.

The Matadors would not go quietly in the closing minutes, narrowing their deficit to just a pair, 72-70, with under a minute to go. The Red Storm, however, was able to hold off the push and come away with the 76-70 victory.

St. John's returns to action in Carnesecca Arena on Thursday night, hosting Fordham at 6:30 p.m. on FS1. The contest can also be heard in the New York Metropolitan Area on 570 AM WMCA.




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