St. John's Drops Iona, 69-59, in MSG Debut

Tariq Owens tallied 12 points and six rebounds while tying a career-high with six blocks
Dec. 17, 2017

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NEW YORK - Playing at "The World's Most Famous Arena" for the first time this season, the St. John's men's basketball team saw five players finish in double figures in a 69-59 victory over Iona, improving to 9-2 and remaining undefeated at home on the campaign.

Shamorie Ponds netted 14 of his game-high 16 points in the second half. The Brooklyn native went a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line on the game and recorded four steals.

Bashir Ahmed registered 12 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, notching his second career double-double.

Justin Simon filled the stat sheet with 15 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists, while Tariq Owens added 12 points and six rebounds. The BIG EAST's leading shot blocker, Owens tied a career-high with six rejections against the Gaels (5-5).

Marvin Clark II also netted 12 points to finish in double figures for the Red Storm, going 4-for-7 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line.

The Johnnies, who entered the contest ranked 18th in the NCAA in scoring defense (62.2 ppg), limited its opponent to 60 points or fewer for the seventh time in 11 tries this season, holding Iona to more than 18 points below its scoring average on the campaign.

Missing all 12 of its tries from beyond the three-point arc, St. John's failed to convert on a triple for the first time since Nov. 15, 2013, in a 73-57 victory over Wagner.

As a team, the Red Storm tallied 10 blocks on the afternoon, rejecting 10 or more tries for the third time this season.

Trailing 6-2 following a pair of Iona 3-pointers, the Red Storm scored 12 of the game's next 14 points, moving ahead by six, 14-8, near the midway mark of the half.

Leading 21-13 later in the stanza, St. John's saw the Gaels score six unanswered to pull within two, 21-19, with just under four minutes to play.

After scoring four-straight points, the Johnnies bumped their lead to six, 25-19. Iona then scored the half's final six points, drawing even with the Red Storm, 25-25, at the intermission.

Following the break, the Johnnies opened the second half with a 7-0 streak, pulling ahead 32-25 with just over three minutes gone in the period. The Red Storm maintained its hot scoring hand over the next few minutes, extending its run to 19-4 following a Simon layup with 14:37 to play.

The Johnnies quickly pulled ahead by as many as 20, 52-32, following an 8-0 run with just over eight minutes gone in the second half. Facing their largest deficit of the game, the Gaels responded with a 19-6 run, clawing within seven, 58-51, at the five minute mark.

Simon ended the Iona run with an old-fashioned three-point play, bumping the St. John's advantage back to double digits, 61-51, with 4:21 remaining in the game. Simon's effort sparked a 7-0 run for the Johnnies, building the lead back to as many as 14, 65-51, following an Owens put-back slam with just over three minutes to go.

The Red Storm outscored Iona in the paint, 44-16, while also converting 85.2 percent (23-for-27) of its free-throw attempts.

St. John's will return to action on Wednesday, playing its sixth and final neutral site game of the regular season against Saint Joseph's in the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun.




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