For thirty-six minutes, you would never have known that the team taking the court against St. John’s was a Division III program.
After being outplayed at times, and tested in every sense of the word, by St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the Red Storm used a quick 9-0 run late in the second half to pull away to a 77-70 victory in the final tuneup before their regular season opener Monday night against William and Mary.
“We’re definitely satisfied with the win, but we understand that we have to continue to get better,” said sophomore guard Nurideen Lindsey, who chipped in with fourteen points on a 6-of-12 shooting effort.
Devin Spencer led St. Mary’s and all scorers with 25 points, including five three-pointers.
For a Red Storm coaching staff still without the in-game services of head man Steve Lavin, the close outcome was clearly a step in the right direction.
“Every game is going to be a new game for them,” said assistant coach Rico Hines after the game. “Give St. Mary’s credit, they shot the ball well. Sometimes we just have to live with that. They’re a well-coached team.”
For a while, it looked like the Seahawks would start to pull away from St. John’s, but the length and athleticism of the Red Storm ultimately proved to be too much for the small school from Maryland. More highlights from this exhibition contest can be found in the latest installment of our Lasting Impressions.
– The normally stable ball control displayed by St. John’s took the night off, as the Johnnies were rattled by St. Mary’s in the early going. St. John’s won this game with a (-4) assist to turnover margin, with nine assists compared to committing thirteen miscues.
– Despite a 1-for-12 performance from three-point range and a 52 percent clip at the free throw line, the Red Storm used their big men and inside presence to win the battle of the boards with a plus-14 rebounding margin. Of the Johnnies’ 48 rebounds, seventeen of them came on the offensive glass.
– Moe Harkless has established himself as the primary rebounder after his second consecutive double-double, posting 20 points and 12 rebounds. If the freshman can sustain this kind of productivity against Big East competition, he will fight UConn’s Alex Oriakhi and Seton Hall’s Herb Pope for the conference rebounding title.
– Finally, the game ball will go to Chris Harney. The little-known St. Mary’s head coach played this game as if it were an NCAA Tournament matchup, and his players executed accordingly. St. Mary’s did a great job killing the clock and forcing St. John’s to step up their efforts on defense in the second half, much to the surprise of the Carnesecca Arena crowd. If St. Mary’s can replicate efforts like this one, don’t be surprised to see Harney at the helm of a low or mid-major Division I program in the near future.
Quotes from St. Mary’s head coach Chris Harney:
On the Overall Experience:
“On the whole, we’re really proud of our guys. We’re grateful for the opportunity that Coach Lavin gave us and I really think both teams got a lot out of it.”
“To be honest, we put that offense together in a few days to counter the matchup zone that St. John’s runs. Just implementing it in a few days, I thought we did a real good job.”
On Being Ahead In the Second Half:
“You know, my job as a coach is to keep things even-keel. I don’t want the guys to get too high or too low, emotionally. I was sensing that they were getting a little too high, so I was trying to bring it back somewhere in the middle.”
On Where St. Mary’s Goes From Here:
“We set the bar really high, that’s what I told them after the game. We’re stepped up our bar as a performance and we have to carry that into the season. We’re always trying to evaluate ourselves and see where we can improve.”