Joel Soriano registered his NCAA-leading eighth double-double, finishing with 17 points and 14 boards, to help lead the St. John’s men’s basketball team to an 86-67 victory over DePaul (5-4, 0-1) in its BIG EAST opener on Wednesday. With the wire-to-wire victory, St. John’s has won seven-straight at Carnesecca Arena this season and improves to 9-1 overall.
In total, five Johnnies recorded double-figures, as St. John’s shot 50.8 percent (33-65 FG) from the field and converted 15-of-19 attempts at the free-throw line. Soriano buried five of his eight field goal attempts and went 7-for-8 at the line. The senior center from Yonkers also blocked two shots.
Andre Curbelo shot 7-for-9 from the field for 15 points, adding five assists and three steals to his final line. Posh Alexander registered 13 points, six boards, six assists and a trio of steals in 34 minutes of work.
St. John’s junior wing David Jones tallied 11 points and eight boards against his old team while Montez Mathis shot a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor and hit a pair of 3-pointers to finish with 10 points.
The Johnnies recorded 50 of their 86 points inside the paint and outrebounded DePaul, 45-35.
St. John’s (9-1, 1-0) was locked in from the opening tip. The Red Storm rushed out to a 12-0 lead by converting on six of its first nine field goal attempts and holding the Blue Demons without a basket through the first 5:15 of the contest.
Over the next four minutes, DePaul managed to cut the Red Storm’s lead down to five. Rafael Pinzon answered by knocking down his first shot off the bench, a 3-pointer that pushed St. John’s edge back to 21-13. With just under nine minutes to go in the first half, Pinzon finished at the rim courtesy of an assist by Dylan Addae-Wusu to spark an 11-2 run that gave the Johnnies a 15-point cushion with 4:19 on the clock. Pinzon finished with nine points on 4-of-8 shooting to go with four rebounds and two assists. Addae-Wusu had six points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 17 minutes off the bench.
The Red Storm took a 40-29 advantage into halftime with Soriano leading the way with 12 points and six boards at the break.
St. John’s scored five quick points to start the second half, as Curbelo banked one off the glass and in before Mathis drained a triple from the corner, pushing the Red Storm ahead 45-29. DePaul cut its deficit down to as little as nine at the 13:35 mark, but the Johnnies ceased any momentum the Blue Demons had with a Soriano slam and Addae-Wusu’s step around floater to take a 58-45 advantage.
The Red Storm pushed its lead to as many as 24 over the final 10 minutes before knocking off the Blue Demons, 86-67.
St. John’s smothered DePaul defensively, holding Blue Demons’ leading scorer and reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week Javan Johnson to 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting. The Iowa State transfer entered the contest averaging 18.4 points per game.
The Red Storm will look to extend its non-conference winning streak at Carnesecca Arena to 25 games on Saturday when it hosts New Hampshire. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. on FS2.
St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson
“We all know that conference games bring on a different mindset. I thought our guys brought the intensity. I talked about taking the sense of urgency up many notches, and I thought we did that from start to finish. Defensively, that was probably the most consistent effort against a team [this season]. They shot a lot of threes. They made some, but I thought we contested quite a bit and ran them off the line. It was a good team effort. The guys that came off the bench gave us some quality minutes. We shared and took care of the basketball from start to finish. We played with space and the ball was moving. We played the game the right way. I think the game rewarded us with a win in conference play against a DePaul team that’s going to scratch and claw.”
On the win…
“I thought we played the game the right way. We defended and we shared the basketball. I thought, in the last few games, our tempo has been mid-tempo. Our energy levels were different today. I think there was a sense of urgency too. We talked about getting better and getting the bad taste out of our mouths with what took place [at Iowa State]. I thought that game was very similar to a conference game, so maybe that helped us in this one. I was proud of our guys. Our students and our fans were outstanding. There was great energy in the building and we fed off of it.”
On David Jones…
“I saw a composed guy. I thought he played the game the right way. He didn’t force things, he was engaged defensively and rebounded the ball. I thought he took another step in the right direction in terms of what we’re asking of him.”
On Posh Alexander…
“When I was watching him, I thought he had an impact on the game without even making a jump shot. Everybody gets caught up in the jump shot, and he’s going to make shots. I’m not worried about that. Let’s talk about some of the other things. Let’s talk about how he led this team. The shots will take care of themselves. He works on it enough. I believe in him and he believes in himself.”
Senior center Joel Soriano
On the team’s 12-0 run to start to the game…
“After our performance at Iowa State, we wanted to pick it up a little bit, build off that and just be better as a defensive squad and on our offense. We emphasized a lot of moving the basketball and buckets in transition. When we move like that, it is beautiful basketball.“
On the team’s 9-1 start this season…
“We take it one game at a time. We are trying to work on the things that we have struggled with at the beginning of the season. We are not going to be the same team that we are now come March. We just want to take it game by game and keep getting better with each win.”
Junior forward David Jones
On how it felt to play against his old team…
“For me, it was a regular game. I went to that school last year. My coaches and teammates told me to just play my game. Even though they were my old teammates and coaches, I was just trying to win today.”
On playing with Joel Soriano…
“He’s a seven-footer, weighing , we have to take advantage of Joel. We play inside and out, and that worked out for him and for us. We did that today and that’s what we need to do every game.”
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