(Federico Mussini (4) and his teammates – @StJohnsBBall)
The St. John’s Red Storm had a tough start to the Maui Invitational, as they lost to Vanderbilt on Monday and Indiana on Tuesday.
They were set to face Chaminade on Wednesday in their third and final game in the tournament, and they resolved to salvage a game there.
Federico Mussini had 24 points to lead them to a 100-93 win to get the win and improve their record to 4-2 on the young season, the first with Chris Mullin at the helm.
Mullin said of the significance of the win, “Obviously, a win makes the long flight home a little more bearable and enjoyable. It was important (for us) to be able to bounce back like we did and respond to adversity. I think after the first night we took a step (in the right direction), and today we were rewarded for that.”
Mussini shot 8-for-13 from the field, and 5-for-9 on three-pointers, with six assists and a steal.
Mussini said of the importance of heading back to New York with a victory, “It’s really important. (There is a) difference between 3-3 and 4-2. We lost against two really good teams, but we improved every day since we’ve got here and that’s the important thing.”
Mussini said of his three-point shooting, “Everybody on the team knows to shoot when they’re open so it’s about confidence. Sometimes shots don’t go in, but we have to keep shooting and (keep) believing in ourselves.”
Christian Jones had a double-double with 17 points (6-13 FG) and 11 rebounds, and both were career highs. Durand Johnson and Amar Alibegovic also had career highs in points. Johnson had 18 points on 6-12 from the field and 2-5 on threes, with seven rebounds, three assists, and four steals. Alibegovic had 17 on 6-8 shooting, 2-3 on threes, five assists, four rebounds, and a steal.
Mullin said of getting into a shootout with Chaminade, “I’m all into sharing the ball and playing free. I think that’s a beautiful way to play. Until we have more bodies, we have to be somewhat diligent how we do things, but long term, I think that’s the way to play basketball.”
Mullin said of takeaways from the trip to Maui, “I think it’s good for the guys to be together as far as bonding goes. Playing against really high-level talent with big, athletic bodies was good for our guys. Every experience for us is going to be marked up as a way to help us build (the program).”