As the New York Knicks continue the worst start in their 68-year history, and the nearby Brooklyn Nets keep struggling, two of New York’s college basketball teams maintained the best starts they’ve had in a while, in the Nets’ building, during the third annual Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival at the Barclays Center on Sunday.
POINTER LEADS AT EACH END AS ST. JOHN’S CRUSHES TULANE
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Behind a career-day from senior guard Sir’Dominic Pointer, the 17th-ranked St. John’s Red Storm improved to 11-1 for the first time in 29 seasons with an easy 82-57 win over the Tulane Green Wave, which fell to 9-3.
Pointer’s efficient 24 points (on 9-of-13 shooting) and seven steals were career bests and game-highs. His thefts accounted for half of St. John’s 14 and were four more than Tulane had.
Making all but one of his six first-half field goal attempts, Pointer was the only player to score in double figures by halftime, as the Red Storm’s fourth-leading scorer (entering the game) was already 4.6 points above his season average, with 15 points, at the break.
“Dom is playing at a very high level,” head coach Steve Lavin said. “He influences the game in so many ways, on both sides of the ball. He is like a tornado ripping through the court. He is making excellent judgments.”
It was also a big day for fellow senior guard D’Angelo Harrison, whose 21 points (on 7-of-13 shooting) made him St. John’s fourth all-time leading scorer, with 1,829 points.
Beating the Green Wave for the first time ever (in three meetings), the Red Storm, which won its seventh straight game, trailed, 9-8, before closing the opening half with a decisive 39-13 run. Up 33-22, with 3:29 left before intermission, St. John’s blew the game open with the final 14 points of the half, to take a commanding 47-22 lead.
“We shared the ball, as we had 13 assists in the first half on 18 field goals,” Lavin said. “That was an indication of playing a cohesive brand of basketball, making the extra pass and ‘sharing the sugar,’ as we like to say. We had a nice rhythm offensively, and defensively, we were active and aggressive.
“We were able to string consecutive stops together. That led to our ability to get out in transition and capitalize on the fast break.”
Backing up Lavin’s point, the Red Storm forced 17 turnovers (six more than it committed) and held sizable advantages in fast break points (22-5) and points off turnovers (20-4). St. John’s also dominated Tulane, 46-24, in the paint.
Shooting 56.3 percent in the first half, the Red Storm finished 50.8 percent (31-for-61) from the floor while holding the Green Wave to just 37.9 percent shooting (22-for-58).
St. John’s second-leading scorer, sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan, added 12 points in 22 minutes off the bench, after missing the Red Storm’s previous game, on Dec. 22, with the flu.
After having a nine-game winning streak snapped in a nine-point loss at No. 13 Washington, Tulane lost its second straight game to a Top 20 team.
Meanwhile, with a highly successful non-conference schedule now completed, Harrison noted the tough challenge which now lies before his squad as it prepares to open its Big East Conference schedule at Seton Hall, on New Year’s Eve.
“Non-conference is done now,” he said. “The Big East is a monster in itself. Our work is not finished. We need to get ready for Wednesday.”
Losing just one time thus far (by seven points, to eighth-ranked Gonzaga), and continually climbing the national polls, St. John’s appears more than ready for that.
TANKSLEY SCORES CAREER-HIGH, GREEN POSTS HOFSTRA’S FIRST TRIPLE-DOUBLE IN ROUT OF LIU-BROOKLYN
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – At 6-2, the Hofstra Pride’s two Niagara transfers, each by way of Philadelphia, had carried their new team to its best start in six years.
After a two-game bump in the road followed, junior guards Ameen Tanskley and Juan’ya Green each had career moments to get Hofstra (8-4) back on track with an 88-62 blowout win over the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds (4-7), who lost for the first time since starting the season with six consecutive losses, before winning their next four contests.
In fact, what Green did, was also a program first.
Eclipsing the 30 points he had in a win over Norfolk State, to start the month, on Dec. 2, Tanskley made 11 of his first 17 shots and led all scorers while pouring in a career-high 32 points, on 12-of-20 shooting.
Tanskley also made five of 11 3-pointers to pace the Pride, which shot a sizzling 14-of-27 (51.9 percent) from behind the arc.
“This was not one of our better performances,” head coach Jack Perri admitted. “They make 10 3-pointers a game. We talked about taking away 3s. We didn’t do a good enough job of that.”
Recording his first career triple-double and Hofstra’s first ever, Green set up a lot of what went right offensively for the Pride, as he finished with game-highs of 10 assists and 10 rebounds to go along with 15 points.
Hofstra also locked LIU down defensively, holding the Blackbirds to just 34.9 percent shooting (22-for-63).
Finishing 50.8 (30-for-59) from the floor, the Pride shot 58.6 percent (17-for-29) while allowing just 26.5 percent (9-for-34) shooting in the opening half.
Shooting just 4-for-15 early on, LIU stayed close, while trailing just 14-11. But an 11-1 run started with a 3-pointer by Tanskley and finished with another 3 by Green, to extend Hofstra’s lead to 27-16, with 7:15 left before halftime.
Leading 35-22, after a pair of 3s by SMU transfer, sophomore sharpshooter Brian Bernardi (12 points), Hofstra ended the half on a 10-3 spurt, with Bernardi sinking another 3, and Tanskley adding five more points, to give the Pride a 45-25 lead at halftime.
Senior forward Landon Atterberry and sophomore reserve guard Iverson Fleming were each scoreless by that point, but each scored five points to bookend a 12-4 run at the start of the second half, which brought the Blackbirds to within a manageable 49-37 deficit by the under-16 timeout.
But a trey and a driving layup by Tanskley keyed a run of a 10 straight Hofstra points to push the lead to 59-37.
LIU never got closer than 15 points thereafter, as 14 points in a row by the Pride swelled the lead to 84-55, with 3:16 left.
By that time, the Blackbirds had seen enough of the Pride’s crisp and highly effective ball movement.
“We always share the ball, so it’s not surprising that we had 20 assists on 30 field goals… because that’s how we play,” said head coach Joe Mihalich, who recruited Tanksley and Green at Niagara, before leaving that school to come to Hofstra himself, last season.
“I’m just excited,” Tanskley added after the win. “My first time playing on an NBA floor, in an NBA arena… I felt good.”
That mood was the result of some earlier hard work after the Pride lost its two previous games.
“We had two spirited practices,” Mihalich said. “There was not a lot of laughing going on [those] two days. So we really got after it and these guys responded, and I think everybody got the message. We did pay attention to details more and I think it showed.”
Hofstra will conclude its non-conference and 2014 portions of it schedule with a road game at Central Connecticut State on New Year’s Eve, before opening play in the Colonial Athletic Association, in which the Pride are one of the league favorites, but have yet to win a regular season or tournament title.
LOYOLA (MARYLAND) RALLIES PAST FAIRFIELD IN OVERTIME
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The only competitive game of the three played at the Barclays Center on Sunday was saved for last as the Loyola (Maryland) Greyhounds got a game-high 21 points from junior guard Tyler Hubbard and 15 points and five steals from Long Island native, freshman guard Andre Walker, before rallying from a seven-point second-half deficit to beat the Fairfield Stags, on a putback layup by junior forward Franz Rassman (nine points) with one second left in overtime.
Junior forward Marcus Gilbert led Fairfield (4-8) with 14 points, but shot just 5-for-18 from the floor while missing nine of 10 free throw attempts. Fellow junior forward Amadou Sidibe added 13 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for the Stags, who blew a 40-33 lead with 12:20 left in regulation.
Reserve junior guard Eric Laster (six points, six rebounds) shot just 3-for-10 for the Greyhounds (4-7), but sent the game to overtime with a layup that tied the game at 55-apiece, with 1:16 remaining in the second half.
NOTE: After three games, that went from noon to until after 7:30 p.m., with the last one going to overtime, a couple of Barclays Center workers rejoiced, as they raised their arms in the air and danced in a mezzanine aisle, knowing that Rassman’s game-winning bucket would finally send them home after a long day, rather than having to sit through at least one more overtime session.
BONUS GAME: HAFTR RALLIES TO EDGE YESHIVA FLATBUSH
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — If you truly love basketball, a trio of college games isn’t enough, when you can stay even for a high school game, as well. So even after witnessing the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival in full, why not take in a matchup between a pair of local high schools to top off a long day of hoops?
In a thrilling finish, the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway rallied from an early eight-point deficit to barely hold off Yeshiva Flatbush, 35-32, in a game of four eight-minute quarters.
HAFTR needed to make the second of two free throws with :00.1 left in the opening period just to get on the scoreboard before the second quarter started. And Flatbush still led, 9-1 at that point.
By halftime, that margin was reduced slightly, to 17-10. But a big HAFTR third quarter, saw the visitors attacking, the paint, getting to the free throw line and doubling up nearby Flatbush, 18-9 in the stanza, to lead, 28-26, going into the last period.
After Flatbush scored the next four points to forge ahead for the final time, 30-28, HAFTR closed the game on a 7-2 run.
Flatbush burned its final timeout with just over a half-minute to play, and held for a final shot. But poor offensive execution, with too much dribbling, led to a forced, desperation 3-pointer from the left wing that fell short off the left side of the rim as time expired.
And a long, nine-hour day of hoops at the Barclays Center was complete with a second dramatic finish after two blowouts.