Making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in four years, the St. John’s men’s basketball team saw its 2018-19 season come to an end on Wednesday night at UD Arena, as Arizona State advanced to the round of 64 with a 74-65 victory over the Johnnies.
The Johnnies end the season with a record of 21-13, matching the highest win total by a Red Storm squad since 1999-2000.
Shamorie Ponds led the way for St. John’s with 25 points, four assists and three steals, marking the 18th time this season that the junior scored 20 or more in a game. Ponds’ 650 points this season were good enough for the eighth highest single-season total in program history, surpassing his own previous high-water mark of 647 set last year.
LJ Figueroa ended the campaign with his sixth double-double, posting 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Lawrence, Mass., native shot 8-of-16 from the floor and connected on three of his five tries from beyond the arc.
Justin Simon also finished in double figures for the Johnnies tallying 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Six of the redshirt junior’s seven boards came on the offensive glass.
As a team, the Red Storm matched its second-highest total of the season on the boards, pulling down 43 rebounds to the Sun Devils’ 42. Arizona State (23-10) entered the game ranked second in the Pac-12 and top 40 nationally in rebounding margin. The Johnnies also forced 21 turnovers and converted those miscues into 27 points.
Arizona State took a sizeable lead in the early going, using a 16-2 run over the course of five and a half minutes to open a 24-10 lead at the midway mark of the half.
The Sun Devils continued to build their advantage, moving ahead by as many as 18 in the waning minutes of the first half.
The Red Storm held Arizona State for more than four minutes down the stretch, but only managed to cut the deficit to 13, 38-25, at the intermission.
After missing its first shot of the half, St. John’s made four in a row and rattled off an 8-0 run, cutting the Sun Devils’ lead to seven, 40-33, with 17:17 to play. From there, the Johnnies failed to convert on their next nine field goal tries and Arizona State built its lead back to 16 by the eight-minute mark.
The Johnnies put forth one final push, using an 8-2 spurt to cut the lead to seven, 62-55, on a Ponds 3-pointer with just under four minutes to go. That was as close as St. John’s would get, as Arizona State advanced with a 74-65 victory.
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