Vince Cole stepped up the energy and in his shooting in the Second Half of play, acting as one of the leaders for the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team, who showed a tremendous amount of grit in the Second Half of play to earn an 82-72 victory over Rider in NCAA Men’s Basketball action on Tuesday night.
Cole had 26 points to lead all scoring, Julian Champagnie followed with a double-double of 18 points and 10 boards and rounding out all scoring was Marcellus Earlington who had 16 points. Vince was able to record 12 points in the final three minutes of play to lead a Second Half surge for the Red Storm.
For Rider who was able to play a fast and style all throughout had the lead throughout, but just could not hang on to that lead as the Red Storm was able to step-up, start cutting at the lead and eventually found a victory. It has been a while since St. John’s and Rider faced each other, as the last time these two squads met was in 1951, which was a 10-point win for the Red Storm in the 1995 Holiday Festival.
In what was more of a boxing bout instead of a baseball game both the Broncs and the Red Storm exchanged buckets, with neither team really having momentum. Rider was able to get some early body blows in on the Red Storm thanks to some mistakes by the home side.
St. John’s hung tight and started to return some punches especially towards the end of the game. As the team used a 11-2 run in the later part of the frame, which was able to give them an 80-76 lead with seconds left. The knockout blow for the Red Storm came compliments of Cole who put the game on ice with a three-pointer with around 30 seconds left.
Thus far 2020 has been one that the Red Storm will not forget as they are having to get used to a world where they prepare intensively for one team, just to have plans change and get ready for another team all together.
An example of that is the most recent schedule change for the Red Storm, as they were originally getting ready to play for the University of Connecticut, but now must change their plans to get ready to play Seton Hall
It will be interesting to see how the team responds to the change of the schedule and how they will come out after having played in tough competition against both Seton Hall and now Rider.
The one thing that was seen in the game that was played tonight was the grit and heart that was shown by the Red Storm will be crucial for the squad as the team will now enter BIG EAST Conference play.
Friday begins BIG EAST Conference play for the Red Storm as they face the Pirates, with a game that is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and airing on the CBS Sports Network.
St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson
“I keep saying it every time I get here; it is the year 2020, expect the unexpected. Rider is a good basketball team, though, they played well. They had one game under their belt against Syracuse and you could see the nerves were going in that game, but tonight, they were a lot more comfortable playing against our pressure defense. They have good guards, made big shots, made all of the hustle plays. We shot 15 more times than they did in the first half, yet we trailed by two at halftime. I always talk about how it is a game of runs, and I like how we played. We had some guys come off of the bench and play well. Marcellus [Earlington], he gave us some great, efficient minutes. John McGriff, I keep talking about him, Dylan [Addae-Wusu] he came in when the starters didn’t have it. Then [the starters] were responsible for those runs, and what can I say about our play down the stretch. Rider had taken care of the basketball, Coach [Kevin Baggett] does a good job with that basketball team and they play well with each other. They took advantage of how we played, and they made the plays. Going down the stretch, though, I thought we turned them over three times in a row which really helped us seal the game. Of course, Vince [Cole], was clutch again and I have to commend our guys on finding him and he did his part in making the shots as well as Marcellus [Earlington] and Julian [Champagnie]. I though in the second half, [Champagnie] started doing some other things, whether it be on the defensive side of the ball, getting to the basket, getting rebounds, protecting the paint. It was a good team win and I am proud of them because they could have gone the other way. It was like ‘Murphy’s Law,’ everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but I think this team has a little fight in them.”
On what was missing in tonight’s effort…
“I thought we came out with the right mindset, but you have to remember in the first half both teams came out and made shots. It was kind of like punches were thrown, and we missed a lot of easy buckets. Then we had a group out there that struggled to score and all of a sudden, they came to play. But you have got to give Rider credit, they had nothing to lose and everything to gain because everybody thought that we would go out there and beat them, but I have been doing this for a long time. You cannot look at the names on the jerseys, you have got to come play. Everyone has good players, and they have [Dwight] Murray Jr., [Rodney] Henderson Jr., all of those kids stepped up and played well for them. We didn’t play well, but we found the resolve to win the game and that is going to pay off well for us, you know. I am not going to knock our guys because again, when you’re not at your best you need to find ways to win and that is what they did.”
On the team’s level of preparation for BIG EAST play…
“Ready or not, here it comes. We are in the family now. The sense of urgency goes up probably about 20 notches, and so our guys have got to be able to do that. We have got to find that next level playing against Seton Hall that has brought a lot of starters back and a lot of experience. We know we are going to have to play some of our best basketball in that game, so we will find out. That is what the games are for. Right now, on our schedule, we have 20 of them, so that is why you play the games. I said it last time, we have still got a lot of work to do, and one of the things it takes to be one of the better teams in our conference is consistency. You have to be consistent in what you bring, day in and day out. Guys have to continue to figure out what their loads are, and we saw tonight where Vince [Cole] was the guy.”
On Marcellus Earlington’s play tonight…
“He had been pressing a little bit and he and I had a visit yesterday and said I thought he was going to have a good game tonight. I thought he went back to being that player he was last year at the end of the season. He was physical, had active hands, was scoring around the bucket, and then even stepped out and made a few shots, including one from the free throw line there that extended the lead down the stretch. He brought it tonight and he was really efficient, so that is the Marcellus we have to have especially in conference play. He is a guy that has been through the wars, so he can hopefully be a leader for our team.”
Junior Guard Vince Cole
On what was lacking tonight…
“Energy, energy, was the one thing that we were lacking. “Flat” that’s one of the words [Coach Anderson] used. We came out real flat and we were just slow on the energy part today.”
On what needs to be improved for Friday’s BIG EAST opener…
“[We can play] a lot better, we know what we need to do. We are an effort team and that’s what we do, we provide a lot of effort and a lot of energy. Going into conference play, that is what we need to provide; a lot of effort and a lot of energy and that’s our brand, that’s what we do.”
On whether or not the team needs to play a bigger name opponent to bring their best…
“I wouldn’t say that. We look at every game as an important game. The game you’re playing right now is the most important, we don’t look at the next game or the game after that. I’d have to say no, we don’t look at it as an easy game or just something we get out and play.”
On if his performance against Saint Peter’s gave him confidence tonight…
“I just have a lot of confidence. I know my team believes in me and Coach [Anderson] believes in me. I don’t really look at the Saint Peter’s game, I just really look at everything since then because I got the trust in the team.”
On what changed for him in the second half…
“Just getting involved. I know that today we needed scoring and that’s what I bring. So, just me coming to the ball, coming off curls, coming off ball screens, just trying to get more involved in the offense. That was what I was really focused on today, just being involved.”
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