In the first BIG EAST game played on campus at Seton Hall in 37 years, the St. John’s Nen’s Basketball team spoiled the raucous pregame atmosphere of the students-only crowd, pulling away for an 84-63 victory on Monday.
St. John’s (11-7, 3-4 BIG EAST), which had lost to Seton Hall (12-6, 3-5 BIG EAST) by six points only two days prior at Madison Square Garden, notched its first road win of the year and its first victory in a Quad One opportunity.
Graduate student Aaron Wheeler continued the best stretch of his collegiate tenure, tallying a career-high 17 points to go along with 10 boards for his third career double-double. After averaging 4.5 points per contest in non-conference action, Wheeler is now boasting 12.7 points per outing against league foes.
After failing to reach double figures for the first time this season on Saturday, Posh Alexander led the way with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. The reigning BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year went 5-for-6 from the charity stripe.
Montez Mathis, who anchored a critical second-half run to put away the game, finished with 10 points and three steals. St. John’s is 9-0 this season when Mathis scores 10 or more points.
Tareq Coburn provided a spark off the bench, making three of his four tries from beyond the arc to post nine points in just 15 minutes of action.
Fordham transfer Joel Soriano logged eight points, eight boards and a career-high four blocks against the Pirates’ formidable front line, which managed only three rejections as a group after recording 10 on Saturday.
Julian Champagnie, the second leading scorer in the BIG EAST, tallied only five points on 2-of-10 shooting, but affected the game in several other ways. The Brooklyn native posted eight boards, three steals, five assists and four blocks, the last two of which matched career-highs.
As a team, St. John’s tallied 12 steals, 11 blocks and 20 assists on 32 made field goals. After being outrebounded 60-43 on Saturday, the Johnnies posted a 48-43 advantage on the glass Monday.
Up 13-10 following a Kadary Richmond free throw with five and a half minutes gone in the game, the Red Storm rattled off a 7-0 run to pull ahead by double digits for the first time, 20-10, just a minute and a half later.
Seton Hall responded with five straight to make it a five-point game, but the Johnnies answered right back with an 18-3 burst, pulling ahead by 20, 38-18, with 6:17 to play in the period. Coburn sparked the rally with a pair of 3-pointers.
Ahead 21 after a Champagnie fast-break dunk, six straight points from Jared Rhoden kick-started a 10-0 run to cut the Red Storm lead to 11, 42-31, with 2:56 to go in the half.
Ahead by 10 at the break, St. John’s saw Seton Hall cut its deficit to single digits on the first possession of the period.
After battling back-and-forth for the next several minutes, the Red Storm used an 8-0 run to build its lead back to 16, 63-47, with just over 11 minutes remaining. Mathis scored five points and tallied a pair of steals on the spurt, including a thunderous fast-break dunk.
That 8-0 burst sparked a larger 27-8 run that saw the Johnnies move ahead by as many as 27 in the closing minutes.
St. John’s will face another tough road test on Saturday, traveling to No. 14/12 Villanova for a 4 p.m. contest against the No. 14/12 Wildcats.