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St. John’s Wins Home Opener vs. Wagner 66-57

(COREY SIPKIN/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

(COREY SIPKIN/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

 

Carnesecca Arena was the place to be tonight at the Johnnies took on the Wagner College Seahawks. It was a highly anticipated game as Chris Mullin made his coaching debut, in the place it all began for him.

Before the game, Mullin was asked on his emotions returning to Carnesecca Arena as head coach. He said, “I’m excited. It’s rare at 52 to do something you’ve never done before. We’ve been practicing and practicing, so it’s time to get the season started. It’s going to be a nice feeling to come home and be back in a place that meant so much to me and my development as a player and person.”

The energy in the arena was top notch as students, fans, and alumni came out to show support for their team.

The Johnnies got off to a slow start; coming off the two exhibition games they played, posting a 1-1 record. The Johnnies played most of the game with only one true point guard, being Federico Mussini, as Marcus Lovett is ineligible for this season.

Lovett, a freshman, must complete a year of residence before competing for the Johnnies. Mullin was not happy with this decision, and Marcus is looking to appeal the decision.

Nonetheless, the Johnnies were able to play a fast tempo style led by Mussini and graduate student Durand Johnson. The game was close throughout the first half, as it was a low scoring one.  With five minutes left in the first half, the Johnnies trailed by two and it was Mussini who provided a spark as he scored a quick five points.

Mussini, who is a crafty point guard, had a strong game leading the way with 18 points. This was a great bounce back game for Mussini, as he struggled in the two exhibition games. He was a key component of their win tonight.

The second half remained close, as both teams were neck and neck. With five minutes left in the game, the Johnnies were up 53-50, when Wagner College forward Romone Saunders had a clear lane to the basket and botched a dunk. Minutes later, Mussini nailed a clutch three to put the Johnnies up by 6, 60-54, with 1:03 left. This was their largest lead of the game. Durand Johnson, hit two clutch free throws to put the Johnnies up 64-57 and put the nail on the coffin.

Many critics say the Johnnies will have a long, painful season, because of their lack of experienced players, but nonetheless, the Johnnies are 1-0. The Johnnies will be back at Carnesecca Arena Monday as they face UMBC.

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