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St. John’s Men’s Basketball Blows by Wagner, 86-63

Kicking off a five-game homestand against Wagner on Saturday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena, the St. John’s men’s basketball team used a balanced scoring effort to cruise past the Seahawks, 86-63.

With the win, the Johnnies improved to 6-2 on the year, including a 5-1 mark in Queens.

Despite playing just 16 minutes due to foul trouble, Mustapha Heron scored a game-high 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including a 3-for-6 effort from three-point range. The senior guard also dished out three assists and blocked a shot in his limited time on the court.

Rasheem Dunn, one of four Johnnies to finish in double figures on the afternoon, tallied 14 points and a pair of assists.

Sophomore forward Josh Roberts fell one rebound shy of his first career double-double, tallying 12 points and nine boards. Roberts, the team’s leader in field goal percentage this season, drained six of his seven chances from the floor.

Roberts’ front court partner, freshman Julian Champagnie, posted 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting to along with a season-high four steals. The Brooklyn native made all four of his field goal chances from inside the three-point arc.

After missing his first seven field goal attempts of the day, LJ Figueroa drained a pair of late triples to finish with six points, six rebounds and six assists, the last of which tied a career-high for the junior.

Marcellus Earlington tallied nine points and four boards while Nick Rutherford also stuffed the stat sheet with seven points, three assists and two steals.

As a team, St. John’s shot 49.3 percent from the floor and recorded assists on 23 of its 33 made baskets. The Johnnies forced Wagner into 21 turnovers on the afternoon, converting those miscues into 23 points. In a matchup of two teams that like to push the pace, St. John’s outscored Wagner, 29-3, in fast-break situations.

All 10 of the Red Storm’s scholarship players to see the floor on Saturday afternoon scored a point.

The Johnnies wasted no time building their lead, rattling off an 8-0 run in the opening two minutes of action.

Following a stretch of back-and-forth basketball, the Red Storm scored 13 unanswered between the eight-minute and four-minute marks of the first half, holding Wagner without a bucket for more than five minutes and jumping out to a 20-point lead, 34-14, at the final media timeout of the period.

Dunn scored the final five points of the opening half in the closing minute of play, giving the Johnnies a 43-19 lead heading into the locker room.

After trailing by as many as 28, Wagner used a 9-2 run to pull within 19, 54-35, with six minutes gone in the second half. That was as close as the Seahawks would get the rest of the way, as the Red Storm held on for a 23-point victory in front of the Red Storm faithful.

The Red Storm will return to action on Tuesday night at Carnesecca Arena, playing host to the Peacocks of Saint Peter’s. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on FS1 and 970 AM WNYM. Tickets are available by visiting RedStormTix.com.

Quotes

St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson

On today’s game…

“First, I want to give credit to Coach [Bashir] Mason and his team. They were kind of undermanned. We saw they never gave up in this particular game.”

“We held [Wagner] to 19 points in the first half. That’s pretty good defense. We were sharing the basketball. In the first half, we had 13 assists on so many buckets. That means we shared the basketball. It was a good team win and on to the next.”

On Mustapha Heron’s performance after his two games at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament…

“I thought he had a good week of prepping. We had been off for a whole week, so it gave him more time to get more reps. This afternoon he had much better rhythm. That’s important. Those shots he was making, I thought it opened up the floor for our guys and we were able to attack early on and kind of set the stage.”

On his team being more than a two-man team…

“Our guys are getting the playing time. They’re playing efficient minutes. Even David [Caraher]. David had been scoring for us. Today, he had three assists. He plays with a big heart and that gets contagious with our basketball team. Marcellus [Earlington] continues to play well. Rasheem [Dunn]. We have multiple guys that can come in and impact the team and that’s what we’re starting to see and all it does is make our team a little better.”

On if he’s surprised by the sudden impact of Josh Roberts and Marcellus Earlington…

“Well, they’re doing it in practice. I think they’ve paid attention to the details of the things that we want them to do. In terms of how we’re playing, I think it puts them in a position to have some success. You have to remember, people are really keying on Mustapha [Heron] and LJ [Figueroa], so I think those guys have been the beneficiary. I think [Josh and Marcellus] are playing with confidence and they continue to develop. The thing I like about them is that they are ready. They’re listening to every word that we say. In practice they’re working really hard, so it’s good to see them go out and showcase it. We still have a ways to go, even those guys.”

On LJ Figueroa’s performance…

“I thought he had his fingerprints all over that first half. I think he had five rebounds and four assists in the first half. Sometimes it’s advancing the ball up the floor. … He was getting the ball down the floor where Mustapha [Heron] gets a layup or gets it to Nick [Rutherford] so he can make that next pass. I thought he was all over the place and that’s what I’m looking for. When the shot is not going down, how do you impact the team.”

On the pulse of this team…

“We’re progressing. … I’m a fast-paced guy, but I think the guys are doing some good things. Even in the losses we’ve had, it’s an opportunity for us to learn from it. We look at the things that we didn’t do well last game in terms of assists, sharing the basketball, and of course, turnovers. Now we have to learn how to play with a lead. Where we are at the end of November, we’ll be different at the beginning of January. It’s a team with a lot of parts and we’re trying to put these parts together and put them in a position where they can be successful.”

St. John’s Senior Guard Mustapha Heron

On when he knew Josh Roberts was going to be an impactful player…

“I knew that last summer at the first practice that we had. … He just didn’t play a lot last year, but I knew that last summer.”

On scoring 18 points in just 13 minutes…

“I thought I was just moving. I thought I was moving a little bit better and took some good shots. It wasn’t anything spectacular. I just moved and took some good shots.”

On his play the last few games…

“I feel like I was pressing a lit bit at times, but I just went and watched the film and watched where I could get lost in their defense. I just shot well today.”

On if it was important to have a game like this…

“I think every night it is important that I perform or the team is not going to be successful.”

On 10 different players scoring tonight on 23 assists…

“We weren’t selfish. We were moving the ball. That was something I know we worked on in practice this week. Not being stagnant with the ball. Coach [Anderson] really emphasized that this week. I think we tried to focus on that today and it showed.”

On how good this team can be…

“We pride ourselves on our depth and that we can go to the last guy on our bench and he can give us just as much as a starter.”

On the team’s talent level…

“Coach [Mike Anderson] preaches that it could be anybody’s night on any given night. That’s what we live by.”

St. John’s Forward Josh Roberts

On the season…

“It’s pretty fun. I’m enjoying it. Being out there with my teammates. We’re working hard and we still have a lot to prove.”

On the team’s improvement since the beginning of the season…

“We’ve built a lot more chemistry from game-to-game. We are starting to get better and to complement each other more. That’s starting to help us on the floor.”

Wagner Head Coach Bashir Mason

On St. John’s…

“They’ve got two guys in [Mustapha] Heron and [LJ] Figueroa that can score. [Rasheem] Dunn hasn’t done it at this level, but he was a really good player in the Northeast Conference. They just play hard enough and tough enough that even if a team’s more talented than them, they’ll give themselves a chance to be in the game and have a chance to win because of their defense.”

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