St. John’s runs out early, downs Loyola (MD) in opener

Courtesy of

QUEENS, N.Y. – St. John’s University turned a 10-point advantage midway through the first half into a 48-23 halftime advantage on Tuesday night, going on to a 76-55 non-conference victory over visiting Loyola University Maryland in the first game of the Legends Classic presented by Old Trapper.


The Red Storm, which is receiving votes in both The Associated Press media and USA Today coaches polls, shot better than 56 percent from the field in the first half, making 6 of 13 3-pointers in the process before the Greyhounds held them to 33.3 percent overall and 1 of 9 from behind the arc after the break.


Andrew Kostecka led Loyola with 17 points and four steals, while Chuck Champion added 12. James Fives grabbed boards as Loyola had a slim 37-35 rebounding advantage.


Shamorie Ponds knocked down nine of the 15 shots he took to finish with 20 points for St. John’s, while Mustapha Heron had 15, Greg Williams, Jr., added 13, and Justin Simon tallied 10.


After misfiring on its first two shot attempts, St. Johns got on the board with an and-one by L.J. Figueroa 1:24 into the game, before Heron and Ponds hit threes on consecutive possessions, and the Red Storm were up nine less than three minutes in.


Kostecka scored on a jumper, and he then made a pair of free throws to trim the St. John’s lead to five, but Heron and Ponds scored in the paint, and it was a 13-4 game six minutes in.


The Red Storm stretched the advantage to 13, 21-8, on a traditional 3-point play by Mikey Dixon at 9:58, but Loyola scored the next six points on layups by Kostecka and KaVaughn Scott and a dunk by Champion, making it 21-14 St. John’s at 8:38 in the first half.


Minutes later, Kostecka made the back-end of two at the free-throw line, and it was 27-10 St. John’s, but the Red Storm scored nine of the next 10 points to lead 37-18 on a Heron three at 3:50. St. John’s lead remained in the high teens until Dixon converted in transition, drawing a foul and making a free throw, with 11 seconds left in the half, pushing the lead to 45-23.


A Heron steal with three seconds on the first-half clock led to Ponds hitting a 40-footer at the buzzer, giving St. John’s a 48-23 lead at the break.


The Red Storm lead would go to 33 in the first three minutes of the second half before Loyola outscored St. John’s, 30-18, over the game’s final 15-plus minutes.


In addition to the combined 29 points by Kostecka and Champion, Brent Holcombe and Kenneth Jones each scored seven, and Scott had five for Loyola. Five players had four or more rebounds, led by Fives’ six; Champion and Kostecka each added five.


The Greyhounds make their home debut on Sunday, November 11, at 5 p.m. when they host Dartmouth University. It will be a Whiteout in Reitz Arena against the Big Green as the Greyhounds will give out 1,000 “Rowdy Reitz” t-shirts and all fans should wear white to the game.

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