St. John’s fans can step back from the ledge. After a loss to Delaware Stare dropped the Red Storm to 2-5, it looked like it might be another tough year on Utopia Parkway.
Although there is still a lot of work to be done, Chris Mullin’s squad bombarded Tulane with 16 three-pointers, and then held off Reggie Theus’s Cal State Northridge team for a 76-70 win on Monday night at Carnesecca Arena.
Shamorie Ponds led the way with 25 points on 10-18 shooting. “I just tried to me more aggressive and be the leader out there, be more vocal, get my teammates involved and just try to gut out a win,” Ponds said.
Landing the talented Ponds was a huge plus for Mullin, coming off an 8-24 record in his initial season as head coach. “Shamorie’s been that type of kid,” Mullin said. “Just felt like his personality off the court is the way he is on the court. He’s very calm. Almost sometimes maybe too calm and casual but I think it also works to his advantage. He doesn’t get overwhelmed and he tries to figure things out. He’s got good instincts, he trusts his instincts. We put a lot on him for a freshman but he can handle it.”
It was the first close win of the year for St. John’s, a stepping stone for a young team. The five game losing streak brought back recent memories of the 16-game losing streak last season but the Red Storm have won two straight and are looking to add a few more wins before conference play begins.
The energy has been much better than it was when they came out flat at home against 23-point underdog Delaware State, a 1-5 team whose one win came against a Division III team. And the execution has been better as well. “We just learned from those games,” said forward Bashir Ahmed. “We didn’t put our head down, we just kept working hard in the gym, just kept working on our game plan and just staying focused, locking in.”
St. John’s has four games left before Big East play. Next up is Fordham on Thursday. The Rams embarrassed the Johnnies at Rose Hill Gym last season and now the Red Storm will look to return the favor at Carnesecca Arena. If they do, St. John’s will be back at .500, something that looked like they might not get back to just three games ago.