Friday, December 1, 2023

St. John's Wins At West Virginia


The St. John's bench erupts on Friday night. @StJohnsBball.

The St. John's Red Storm notched their third straight win as they improved to 5-2 on the young season, as they won at West Virginia, 79-73, on Friday night in the Big East-Big 12 Battle.

Joel Soriano led the way for the Red Storm with a career-high 24 points, as he shot 6-for-11 from the field, and just missed a double-double as he snagged nine rebounds and three blocks.

Chris Ledlum had his second double-double of the season with 17 points (8-16 FG) and 10 rebounds. Jesse Edwards had 15 points (5-8 FG) and six rebounds. Naheim Alleyne had 14 points on 5-9 from the field and 2-4 on three-pointers, with four rebounds and an assist. Ofri Naveh had nine points off the bench, all of which came from the free throw line, with five rebounds and three assists.

St. John's improved on perhaps their most notable weakness in the early going, their play in the second half of games. After the game was tied at 36 at halftime, the Red Storm held a 53-51 lead with 10:15 remaining and proceeded to go on a 10-2 over the next three-plus minutes, capped by a Soriano three-point play at the 6:57 mark. They were then tested late, when West Virginia pulled within three, 69-66, at the 2:43 mark, and a three-pointer from Alleyne with 20 seconds left made it 77-70, and that sealed it. SJU outscored West Virginia 43-37 in the second half.

Pitino Postgame: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media afterwards, and opened with this statement: "We were battling the elements of refereeing today. I don't mean that in a negative way, they were doing a good job, but we never adjusted from our aggressive play and you have to adjust. Certain games are called certain ways, pro or college, and we never adjusted to the ways the referees were calling it and there were 31-for-43 [at the free-throw line]. What we did a great job on was executing against the zone. We felt they would play a zone because of the quickness we have on the perimeter, and they did. We battled all the elements of foul trouble and really this young man to my left {Nahiem Alleyne] gave us a big lift, making a big shot. I knew down the stretch we had to go to someone with a lot of experience and outside of the travel, he played a great game."

On pulling away in a road game: "I've been coaching for 40-something years and very rarely do you see a road game where you pull away like that. They played Virginia to the wire...This is a tough place to play. We are coming away with a six-point victory and a great victory. We're not going to pull away from too many people. That's not going to happen with our team, especially with foul trouble...I thought this was a great win, tremendous job of executing down the stretch. We didn't shoot the three well in the beginning but made the big ones at the end. I'm real proud of our guys. For a change, we didn't turn it over. We had six turnovers in the game."

New York's Team Will Be All Over NYC: St. John's begins a stretch of four straight games in New York City when the Red Storm returns home to Carnesecca Arena, colloquially known as The Lou, on Wednesday, December 6, to take on Sacred Heart at 7:00 p.m. Then, they will take part in the NABC Brooklyn Showcase at Barclays Center on Sunday, December 10, when they will take on Boston College at 4:30 p.m. The Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival will be on Saturday, December 16, and they will take on NYC rival Fordham at 3:30 p.m. Then, on December 20, they are back at Carnesecca Arena to open Big East Conference play against Xavier at 7:00 p.m.

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