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St. John’s Holds on, Defeats LIU

November 14, 2009

DJ Kennedy led the Storm with 16 points

The game started off just as Coach Norm Roberts and Johnnies fans had hoped.  St. John’s dominated the Panthers, both inside and outside, for the first 23 minutes building a 19 point lead with 17 minutes to go in the 2nd half.  But the Johnnies would struggle the rest of the way, holding on for an 83-70 win at Carnesecca Arena.  

Head Coach Norm Roberts was happy to get a win, but was not pleased after the game. 

C-plus” was the grade Roberts put on the effort.

St. John’s was led by Junior Guard DJ Kennedy who poured in 16, Dwight Hardy who had 14 and Justin Burrell, Justin Brownlee and Paris Horne each had 12.  Highly touted freshman Omari Lawrence finished with seven points in just 14 minutes. 

LIU was led by Jaytornah Wisseh who had 28 points and orchestrated LIU’s second-half comeback, while exploiting a weakness for St. John’s that must be fixed.  Junior point guard Malik Boothe struggled on the defensive end, and that could be a problem for the Red Storm when they face the real competition during the Big East schedule.  Boothe’s backup, Freshman Malik Stith, missed the game after spraining his ankle Thursday in practice.

Nonetheless, the Johnnies were able to show off their deeper, more-talented look and it was impressive. A poor shooting team a year ago and even worse on 3-point shots, St. John’s made 59% from the floor and went 8-for-16 on threes last night. And a team that had little depth last season used eight players for at least eight minutes which lead to The Storm leading 50-36 at halftime.

Another problem that needs to get fixed is the foul shooting.  St. John’s did get to the foul line but it missed eight of its first 11 free throws of the second half which also allowed the Panthers to creep back into the game. 

“When we were pushing the ball and playing fast and getting up and defending … that’s what we can be,” Roberts said.

Well St. John’s needs to be the team they were in the first 23 minutes of the game, and nothing like the squad that allowed LIU to dream of the upset in the second half.  I think this team is going to be fun to watch this season, and I like what I see from the new guys.  But it is still disheartening to see the other big-time programs dominating the lesser mid-majors, while St. John’s has to squeak out victories. 

St. John’s next travels to Rochester Tuesday to take on a good St. Bonaventure team.

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