It’s the first time the Red Storm kicked off the season with four-straight wins for the first time since 2014-15, when St. John’s rattled off an 11-1 start in non-conference play en route to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Justin Simon came close to a triple-double, tallying seven points, nine assists and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. The redshirt sophomore guard also recorded two steals and blocked a shot.
After grabbing four boards in his St. John’s debut, the California native has now registered double-digit rebounds in each of his last three appearances.
Shamorie Ponds and Bashir Ahmed paced the Red Storm with 14 points apiece. Ponds also added six rebounds, while Ahmed chipped in five.
The third Johnnie to reach double figures, Marvin Clark scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Marcus LoVett tied a career-high with four steals in addition to netting eight points, while Amar Alibegovic made four of his six tries from the floor to finish with nine points. The senior forward also grabbed five boards.
The Johnnies return to action on Thursday afternoon, taking on Oregon State in the opening contest of the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
“First and foremost, it is the opportunity to bring home a preseason championship,” said Clark of the trip to Florida. “We feel that we can play with anybody, but it is just a matter of coming out and bringing it from the jump.”
Women top William & Mary
Behind a school-record 36 points in the third quarter, the St. John’s women’s basketball team improved to 2-0 for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign with a 92-81 victory over visiting William & Mary on Friday night.
“I thought the third quarter was the story of the game,” said coach Joe Tartamella. “We played tremendously coming out of halftime, made shots at the rate that we feel like we can. William & Mary is a very well-coached team, they have girls who are tough and they kept us on our toes.
For the first time since March 1, 2014, five Red Storm (2-0) players scored in double figures, led by junior Akina Wellere and freshman Qadashah Hoppie’s 21-point efforts.
“To come into another game and see five players in double figures and have 15-plus assists, and to close a game the way that we did, I thought it was great,” said Tartamella.
Wellere scored 17 of her 21 in the second half on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 effort from the free throw line in 18 minutes in the latter stanza.
Hoppie couldn’t miss early on, hitting her first four attempts from the field. The reigning Big East Freshman of the Week finished 8-for-13 from the floor, hit four of her five attempts from beyond the arc and added two steals defensively in 27 minutes.
Hoppie’s 21 points are the most for a St. John’s freshman since Shenneika Smith scored 28 points at Syracuse on Jan. 27, 2010.
Sophomore Alisha Kebbe added 10 points and two dimes, while redshirt freshman Tiana England scored 11 points and dished out four assists.
Senior Maya Singleton posted her second-straight double-double with 13 rebounds and 12 points. Singleton also rejected three shots and came away with three steals in 30 minutes before fouling out.
St. John’s returns to action on Friday, when the Johnnies take part in the Gulf Coast Showcase. The Red Storm opens the tournament against Western Michigan at 11 a.m. for the first of three games in three days.
“Now we just have to get ready for a big three-game swing down in Florida,” said Tartamella.