William & Mary head coach Tony Shaver took a seat in the post game press conference and summed up his team’s performance simply and succinctly.
“Good twenty minutes, bad twenty minutes,” he said.
After a sluggish first half, highlighted by a barrage of three-pointers from William & Mary and a hesitant Red Storm offense, St. John’s headed to the locker room, down 33-26.
And then something happened.
In the second half, the Red Storm turned up the defensive pressure, using a 22-5 run and 17 second-half points from sophomore Nurideen Lindsey to defeat William & Mary, 74-59, Monday night at Carnesecca Arena, as part of the 2K Sports Classic.
“I think when we were getting down, Coach [Dunlap] called a timeout and everybody looked angry,” said freshman guard D’Angelo Harrison, who had 14 points in the win. “Not more of nervous, more like “Let’s go!” The way St. John’s plays is [how St. John’s played] in the second half.”
After just two points on 1-5 shooting in the first half, Lindsey came out of the gate to score six points in the first four minutes of the second, finishing 7-for-7 from the floor in the half and ending with a team-high 19 points in the game.Where William & Mary was able to exploit holes in the Red Storm zone defense in the first half, freshman forward Sir’Dominic Pointer led a second-half St. John’s effort that forced 21 Tribe turnovers in the game.
“When Dom is out there, he plays so hard on defense and he’s a pest for anybody with the ball at the top of that press,” said freshman forward Moe Harkless, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. “Especially when we drop back into our zone and he’s just running around all crazy, he forces a lot of turnovers.”
By forcing turnovers and capitalizing on long run-outs on William & Mary misses, St. John’s athleticism in transition was too much for the Tribe.
After pulling the Red Storm to within three, 37-34, just over three minutes into the second half, another transition layup by Nurideen Lindsey, plus the foul and intense yell from the sophomore guard, sent Carnesecca Arena into an uproar and swung momentum into St. John’s favor, an advantage that they would not relinquish.
“That’s a play that I can make more than once,” said Lindsey of the layup. “The excitement after the play came from me starting off slow. It was a tough start for me offensively. That was a little excitement from finally loosening up and getting down to my game.”
Lindsey’s work as the catalyst in the second half underscores the stark contrast between the youthful struggles of the first twenty minutes and the dominating athleticism on display in the second.
Assistant coach Mike Dunlap assumed head coaching duties, continuing to fill in for head coach Steve Lavin.
“What Coach Dunlap does, is keep preaching that, together, we’re going to be a lot better than individuals,” said St. John’s special assistant Gene Keady. “I’ve got to give it to him…he did a tremendous job with his halftime talk and he didn’t yell or anything, unlike I would have.”
Head coach Steve Lavin made a return to practice on Tuesday, but a timetable for his return to full coaching duties remains uncertain.
The Red Storm return to the floor Wednesday to take on Lehigh at Carnesecca Arena.