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Army Black Knights

St. John’s Grinds Out 69-59 Win Over Iona At Holiday Festival

St. John’s toughed out a non-conference win over Iona at Madison Square Garden.

Despite an ugly first half and not making a single three-point field goal, St. John’s turned it on late in a 69-59 win over Iona at the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden.

The first half featured both teams struggling to make baskets. While St. John’s shot in the mid 30 percent range, Iona was hovering in the 20’s. The Gaels also were dealing with smothering defense from St. John’s, who picked up six blocks in the first 20 minutes of play. While Iona struggled, the Red Storm was unable to solve Iona’s zone defense as St. John’s went 0-for-7 from beyond the arc.

Iona dominated the rebound margin in the first half 25-16. Nine offensive rebounds gave the Gaels extended possessions, something that helped Iona close the half on a 12-4 run to tie the game at 25. Justin Simon led St. John’s with eight points while E.J. Crawford and Zach Lewis led Iona with six points.

St. John’s came out of the gate in the second half with a 7-0 run. The strategy changed for the Red Storm as they began going more uptempo. The change was done to prevent Iona from getting set in their zone, which St. John’s struggled with in the first half. The second half also saw Shamorie Ponds catch fire as he scored eight points in the first few minutes of the half.

While it seemed that St. John’s was going to run away with the matchup, Iona went on a 19-6 run to cut the lead to seven points. The Red Storm went cold going over three minutes without a field goal during the furious Gaels run. Deyshonee Much scored nine points during Iona’s run in the second half.

After the lead was cut to seven, St. John’s continued their push to increase the tempo. The Red Storm began to pull away behind timely foul shooting and a renewed focus on defense that seemed to disappear during the second half.

“It wasn’t an artistic game,” said St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said. “It wasn’t a pretty game.”

Ponds finished with 16 points but shot just 4-for-13 from the field. Bashir Ahmed finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. St. John’s won the game despite shooting 0-for-12 from three-point land. The last time the Red Storm did not make a single three-pointer was on Nov. 15, 2013, against Wagner, a game they also won.

In the first game of the day at MSG, Army connected on 16 threes to defeat rival Air Force, 79-54. Army led by as much as 27 and was led by Jordan Fox and Tommy Funk who finished with 16 points.

Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for DoubleGSports.com as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow DoubleGSports.com writer Jason Cordner.
Kahlil Thomas

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