Photo Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
QUEENS, N.Y. (Dec. 8, 2015) – Nearly three weeks since knocking off Rutgers in a thriller at Carnesecca Arena, St. John’s returns to its on-campus home Wednesday for a 5 p.m. meeting with Niagara on FS1 as part of a Red Storm doubleheader. The St. John’s women’s basketball team will square off with Yale in the nightcap on ESPN3. The programs are calling for a “RED OUT” at Carnesecca Arena. Fans are asked to wear red to participate in a special evening planned for the St. John’s community.
Justin Kutcher and Jim Spanarkel are on the call for FS1’s national broadcast of the 100th all-time meeting between St. John’s and Niagara. John Minko and Brandon Tierney can be heard on the St. John’s IMG Radio Network broadcast airing on 970 AM WNYM.
St. John’s (5-3) opened the season with three-straight wins at Carnesecca Arena. The Red Storm has not allowed more than 59 points and has limited opponents to a 33.2 field goal shooting percentage inside the historic venue this season.
Led by a near triple-double by Felix Balamou (Conakry, Guinea) and team-high 13 point performances from freshman Federico Mussini (Reggio Emilia, Italy) and Yankuba Sima (Girona, Spain) in the team’s last contest in Queens, the Red Storm battled back from a 16-point second half deficit to upend Rutgers, 61-59, in the inaugural Gavitt Tip-Off Games on Nov. 19. Since then, St. John’s youthful roster has been tested by nationally-ranked programs and in tough road venues before picking up its fifth win of the season Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Sima, a 6-foot-11 center from Spain, is coming off a dominant performance that led the Red Storm to its recent 63-56 victory over St. Francis Brooklyn in the Holiday Festival. He produced his first-career double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds), while swatting five shots to rise to third in the nation with 3.75 blocks per game and 30 total rejections.
Durand Johnson (Baltimore, Md.) also played a key role in getting St. John’s back on the winning track Sunday. The 6-foot-6 graduate student delivered a career performance with 19 points and shooting 7-for-12 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers. It was his clutch jumper with 30 seconds remaining and just before the shot clock expired that helped St. John’s seal the victory. Johnson has warmed up as of late as he leads the Red Storm over the last three games averaging 14.3 points.
Niagara (3-6) has dropped three of its last four games, including its recent 56-42 loss to Monmouth on Sunday. The Purple Eagles are St. John’s most frequently played non-conference opponent and make the trip to Queens for the second-straight year. Matt Scott leads Niagara averaging 16.6 points and 3.3 assists per game.
About the Series with Niagara
· St. John’s owns a 72-27 all-time record with Niagara in a series that dates back to 1909.
· Niagara is St. John’s most frequently played non-conference opponent.
· The Red Storm has won eight of the past 10 meetings with Niagara, including a 70-57 victory last season.