Led by a pair of 20-point performances from LJ Figueroa and Mustapha Heron, the St. John’s men’s basketball team withstood a late push from Brown to pull out an 82-71 victory inside Carnesecca Arena on Tuesday.
Heron, who scored 13 of his 21 points in the second half, missed the final minutes the game after going down with a right ankle injury.
Figueroa netted a team-high 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including a 3-for-9 showing from three-point range. The Red Storm’s leading scorer this season at 15.6 points per game also went a perfect 6-for-6 from the line.
As a team, St. John’s (9-2) set its second season-high in as many games for free-throw percentage, going 24-for-26 (92.3%) from the charity stripe.
Rasheem Dunn made five of his six chances from the free-throw line and finished with 12 points. The redshirt junior guard from Brooklyn native matched a career-high with six assists on the evening and did not surrender a single turnover. As a team, the Red Storm registered a season-low six turnovers and dished out 14 helpers.
Marcellus Earlington scored eight points on 3-of-4 shooting in just 13 minutes of action. Fellow sophomore Josh Roberts finished with six points, nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
The Red Storm grabbed the lead just eight seconds into the contest and never relinquished it, as Figueroa drained the first of three straight triples to start the game for St. John’s.
The Johnnies quickly built their advantage to double digits, moving ahead by 10, 17-7, following a pair of Dunn free throws with just about eight minutes gone in the half.
With nine minutes to play in the opening period, Greg Williams Jr. brought the Carnesecca Arena crowd to its feet with a thunderous slam. After a Heron miss, he corralled the rebound and found Williams at the three-point line. The sophomore guard took two steps and took off, posterizing a Brown defender and sending the St. John’s faithful into a frenzy.
Leading by 17 at the break, St. John’s saw Brown go on an early 7-0 scoring run to pull within 10, 45-35, and force a Mike Anderson timeout less than three minutes into the action. Heron responded with a personal 7-0 run of his own to restore the Red Storm advantage, 52-35, less than a minute later.
A three-point shooting barrage helped Brown (5-5) narrow its deficit once again, as a 7-for-12 start from deep in the second half brought the Bears as close as four, 64-60, following back-to-back triples from Brandon Anderson with eight minutes to play.
Brown had a chance to pull within two, but Joshua Howard missed a wide-open dunk that allowed the Red Storm to score easily in transition, kick-starting a 6-0 St. John’s spurt that built the lead back to double digits, 70-60, with five and a half minutes remaining.
The Bears would not pull closer than eight the rest of the way, as the Johnnies held on for their seventh win of the season inside Carnesecca Arena.
Following a break for final exams, the Red Storm will return to action on Dec. 18 against Albany to close out a five-game homestand. The contest is scheduled for an 8:30 p.m. start on FS1 and 970 AM WNYM.
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