With two wins in a row, the St. John’s Red Storm (12-7, 4-3) would look to continue their recent Big East success against the Rutgers Scarlett Knights(12-6, 3-4.)
The last four meetings between St. John’s and Rutgers have been decided by a total of just nine points, with the Knights winning this seasons first match-up over the Storm, 58-56.
Jerome Seagears and Myles Mack each hit three pointers for Rutgers to get the games scoring going. St. John’s bounced back quick forcing two turnovers and scoring two buckets, 3 minutes in they trailed 6-4.
The Knights continued turning over the ball, but the Storm would fail to capitalize. With St. John’s shooting 25% from the field, they found themselves in a 12-7 hole 8 minutes in.
Poor shooting continued for St. John’s, and after a period of hitting just 1 of 10 shots, D’Angelo Harrison finally nailed a three. Rutgers would still be in charge however, leading 18-12 with 9 to go in the half.
Jamal Branch had an impressive reverse layup following a Rutgers bucket. This led the Storm to a mini 6-0 run, and with 6 minutes in the half they were down 20-18.
After trading a few buckets, Rutgers came down the floor and slammed home a dunk to take a 28-21. JaKarr Sampson would hit a bucket the next time down the floor, cutting the lead to five and propelling St. John’s to a huge run with 3 minutes to play.
Felix Balamou made an appearence for the Storm as he finished up a three point play after Sir’Dom Pointer stole a Rutgers inbound pass. This shrank the Knights advantage to just one point with 1 minute to play.
St. John’s finally took the lead after Sampson hit two free throws, capping off an 8-0 run to end the half and giving the Storm a 29-28 edge.
Pointer had 5 steals in the first half while JaKarr Sampson finished with a team high 8 points. The St. John’s defense held Rutgers leading scorer Eli Carter without a bucket as he shot 0-6 from the field.
“Coach (Lavin) says we’re road warriors.” Pointer said of the tenacious play St. John’s has exhibited on the road recently. “We try to go out and play hard every game”
The St. John’s streak continued coming out of halftime, with Sampson hitting the first bucket of the second half two minutes in. St. John’s continued building their run, shutting out Rutgers for 17 straight points.
Things would not get much better for the Scarlet Knights, who were held without a point for about 7 and a half minutes of play. They would finally end the 17-0 St. John’s run after hitting a free throw, and with 14 to play they trailed 38-29.
Despite their anemic offense keeping them off the board, the Scarlet Knights went on a 7-0 run to get right back in the game. The scoring streak seemed to coincide with Sir’Dom Pointer heading to the bench after getting in foul trouble.
Following a Steve Lavin timeout, Sampson hit a floater and on the next couple of possessions got himself to the line where he hit all three free throws. With 12 minutes to play the Red Storm led Rutgers 43-35.
Eli Carter finally got on the board for the Knights, hitting two free throws followed by a three. Sampson came back from the Carter three by hitting a deep two, and with 1o left in the game St. John’s led 48-40.
After Rutgers got within six, the Storm took their biggest lead of the game. A Harrison three would give St. John’s an 11 point lead and with 8 to go St. John’s led 55-44.
Frustration continued to grow for the Scarlet Knights with Carter pushing Pointer to the ground for an offensive foul. Sampson would retaliate with a dagger bucket to give St. John’s a 58-47 lead with the clock winding down to the last 4 minutes.
St. John’s would go on to win it by a final of 72-60. Sampson finished just one point shy of his career high, with 21 points. Pointer would fill up the stat sheet with 13 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assist, 6 steals, and 2 blocks.
“It feels great to know that we are moving in the right direction.” Pointer said of the fourth Big East win.”The numbers are good, but the win is better.”
The Red Storm will look to keep their winning streak alive as they host Seton Hall on January 27 as they head back to Madison Square Garden.