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St. John’s Upends Albany, 85-57

The St. John’s men’s basketball team secured its sixth straight win and its 10th overall of the season on Wednesday, wrapping a five-game homestand with an 85-57 victory over the University at Albany.

Playing without the services of the team’s second leading scorer, Mustapha Heron, the Red Storm (10-2) had four players finish in double figures while eight different Johnnies recorded at least six points.

Marcellus Earlington led the way for St. John’s with 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting and fell just one rebound shy of his first double-double with a career-high nine boards, six of which came on the offensive glass. Additionally, the sophomore from Stony Point, N.Y., blocked two shots.

Julian Champagnie also had an efficient night from the floor, tallying 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go along with six rebounds. The freshman from Brooklyn scored 12 of his 14 points in the opening seven minutes of the contest.

Greg Williams Jr. knocked down three 3-pointers en route to a career-high 11 points while Rasheem Dunn finished with 10 points and five assists.

Josh Roberts logged eight points, eight rebounds and four blocks. The effort marked the sophomore’s fifth of the season with a career-high four rejections.

The team’s leading scorer on the season, LJ Figueroa narrowly missed finishing in double figures, as he posted nine points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Nick Rutherford netted six points, dished out seven assists and came away with three steals while David Caraher chipped in seven points. Damien Sears added four points, three rebounds and two steals in 11 minutes of action.

As a team, St. John’s forced 24 UAlbany turnovers, tying a season-high for the Red Storm in that category. The Johnnies converted those chances into 30 points.

St. John’s also outscored the Great Danes in the paint by a 54-24 margin and outrebounded UAlbany, 47-30, including 16 offensive boards.

UAlbany converted on three of its first four shot attempts, jumping out an 8-3 lead with just under three minutes gone in the contest. After starting 1-for-7 from the floor, the Red Storm turned the tables, unleashing a 21-0 run to move ahead 24-8 near the midway mark of the half. The Johnnies held the Great Danes without a point for 11:01, forcing eight turnovers during that stretch.

UAlbany snapped the skid with a quick flurry of buckets, but St. John’s built its advantage back to 16, 34-18, with just under four minutes to go in the period.

Leading by 13, 35-22, at the break, the Red Storm promptly expanded its lead in the latter stanza, using a 13-5 run to move ahead by 20 with 14:14 to go.

The Great Danes would not get closer than 17 the rest of the way, as the Red Storm ballooned its advantage to as large as 33 down the stretch.

As a team, St. John’s shot a season-best 50.7 percent from the floor, including a 30-for-50 showing from two-point range. The Red Storm also matched a season-high with 15 steals and set another with 11 blocks.

The Red Storm will return to action on Saturday, closing out non-conference play with a neutral site showdown against No. 16/17 Arizona at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The game, which is set to tip at 10 p.m. ET, will be broadcast on ESPN2 and 970 AM WNYM.

Quotes:

St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson

 

Opening statement…

 

“I thought this was one of our better effort games. … It was a good [effort], especially with one of our leading scorers not playing. You always wonder where’s the scoring going to come from and it came from multiple guys and you had two of those guys up here, sophomores in [Greg Williams Jr.] and [Marcellus Earlington]. It was a good team win.”

On Mustapha Heron’s recovery…

“He hasn’t practiced yet. … He’s still a day-to-day situation.”

On what his sophomores have brought to the table this season…

“I think they’re cashing in on the opportunities. Sometimes in life all you need is opportunities. … The slate was clean, so it gave them an opportunity to play depending on what they bring to the table. They’ve had an opportunity to carry those same situations that take place in practice, they take it to the game and they’re cashing in on it.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of them defensively. I think if you’re a guy that’s going to show up and play defense each and every night, I love that. You want to battle, you want to play with your heart. That’s what those guys are doing. Marcellus [Earlington] is probably one of our more physical guys on our basketball team. He has a great pair of hands and we can see the athletic ability. Josh [Roberts] and even Greg [Williams Jr.]. You put them in a situation where they’re going to have a chance to be successful and they’re taking advantage of it. They get confident. It’s all about confidence and understanding what their roles are.”

On the progression of Greg Williams Jr.’s play…

“Each day he’s taking another step. You can just see his confidence is really growing when he gets out there on the floor. Every now and then he’ll be tentative in what he does. It’s just a matter of getting some reps in practice, which he’s getting now. If you’re out from July until once we start official practices [due to injury], that’s a long time. You missed out on a lot of stuff, you missed a lot of conditioning. So now you got to expedite that process. Greg has talent and I think there’s another level that he can go to. We’re seeing it. It was on display.”

 

On if this will be a better team when Mustapha Heron returns from injury…

“I hope we are a much better basketball team by the time we get Mustapha [Heron] back. That’s the goal. We want to be playing some of our better basketball later down the line. The thing I was really disappointed [with tonight] was the turnovers and the carelessness with the basketball. We put a big value on turning people over, speeding them up, making them make a quick decision, but we got to make better decisions. I’ll take the blame for that. We played a lot of guys so they got take responsibility of really backing the basketball.”

On if his team is ready for a bigger test in Arizona on Saturday…

“That’s going to be a tremendous challenge. We have had some games where we played some pretty good basketball teams, but it’s probably one of the more talented player-for-player [opponents]. We’re going to be traveling out to the west coast, so I want to see what our guys do in terms of their game traveling. Can you bring that same kind of intensity offensively? Can we execute? … I think rebounding is going to be a big battle in that game. They have some tremendous players.”

 

St. John’s Sophomore Guard Greg Williams Jr.

 

On his health and mindset…

 

“I feel like I’ve just been getting better every day, just trying to stay positive with everything but I definitely feel like I’m getting back into shape and getting back into how I’m used to playing. So, I’m just trying to carry it over into these games.”

 

On if the team is prepared for their next game against Arizona…

 

“I feel like we’ve done all that we can to try and excel each game. I feel like we’ve put in the work to carry it over into these games. That’s a great team that we’re up against and I feel like we’re just going to come with a grit and an intensity that most teams just haven’t seen before.”

 

On development of the team…

 

“I feel like we’ve done all that we can to try and excel each game. I feel like we’ve put in the work to carry it over into these games. That’s a great team that we’re up against and I feel like we’re just going to come with a grit and an intensity that most teams just haven’t seen before.”

 

On if there are outside factors that motivate the team…

 

“Honestly, we just try to focus on ourselves and think how we can get better.”

 

On the best thing about Coach Anderson…

 

“I like it because we can just get after it. I feel like when we all come together and play hard like that it just makes everything fun. We’re going up and getting loose balls, getting steals and just communicating with each other without saying anything. We just trust each other and kind of feel for each other throughout the court. I feel like it’s just something that makes everyone win in a different way.”

 

St. John’s Redshirt Sophomore Forward Marcellus Earlington

 

On the team’s ability to have numerous players step up…

 

“You know we always talk about the next man up and something that’s something we pride ourselves in. I think everybody on this team is confident in their skill and Mike Anderson allows us to play. So, there’s going to be nights where you’re going to see people just contributing and having fun and when we have fun, we play well.”

 

On his improvement this season…

 

“I’m thankful for the opportunity. This offseason, I prided myself and getting better in every aspect of the game. Mike and the coaches put the confidence in me to go out there and play my game every night and just opportunity. I love the game. It just excites me so just being able to be out there and help my teammates win is good.”

 

On the bench play this season…

 

“Our coach always talks about how our bench is the strongest aspect of our team. So we just kind of come out there and provide energy and try to do the little things. We’re blue collar people, so diving for loose balls, getting rebounds, getting an extra steal, getting an extra deflection, all of the little things that mean something at the end.”

 

On the best thing about Coach Anderson…

 

“Well his style definitely fits me because I like to just be all over the place and just him giving me the opportunity to, you know, pick up the point, pick up multiple positions and just be out there and be aggressive. I love it. He gives us that freedom to just go out there and play our game. It shows everybody’s having fun and it shows on the court.”

Albany Head Coach Will Brown

 

On St. John’s…

 

“No surprises. I felt watching film, they were one of the hardest playing teams in the country and their offense is predicated on their defense. They do a great job of moving team’s over. They’ve got good size, athleticism and they’re relentless defensively.”

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