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St. John’s Tops Niagara 48-44

In the 100th all time meeting between St. John’s and Niagara, the Johnnies were able to come up with the victory in a hard fought, defensive battle, 48-44. The two Vincentian schools both did not shoot the ball well at all. The Johnnies held the Niagara Purple Eagles to just 25% from the field, including only 3-18 behind the arc. The Johnnies were led by Sima and Yakwe down low, contributing to an overall 12 block night.

Federico Mussini led the team in scoring once again, delivering 11 points, with a few threes as well. Christian Jones also added 10 points and 7 rebounds, in what has been a great start to the season for him. Sima contributed 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks and Yakwe added 5 blocks as well.
For Niagara, Emile Blackman led the way with a game high 16 points. Matt Scott also had a sold game posting a double- double, with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Overall, the Johnnies move to 6-3, while Niagara moved to 3-7. St. John’s is 73-27 all time vs Niagara, who is their most-frequently played non-conference opponent.

The game was ugly from the start, as both teams could not get shots to fall. The score heading to half time was 27-20 , with St. John’s leading. In the second half, St. John’s led by as many as 12 points, primarily due to Yakwe’s defense. One of Yakwe’s blocks, led to a thunderous fast-break jam for Christian Jones, which brought the sold out crown in Carnesecca Arena to its feet. With 5:31 left to go the Johnnies had a comfortable 10 point lead, 43-33. Niagara would outscore St. John’s 9-2 over the next four minutes to get within 3 with one minute remaining. However, clutch free throws by Christian Jones and Ron Mvouika, put the nail in the coffin.

Head Coach Chris Mullin said after the game, “A win is a win so we could be happy about that, but we’ve got to improve in a lot of different areas. We just need to keep working at improving.” He also spoke on his teams poor shooting by saying, “Our guys know if they have open shots they’re free to shoot. I’d rather have shots than turnovers so I’m not opposed to us shooting the basketball.” Overall, it was a gritty win for this group of players as they showed they can win games by their strong defensive abilities.

St. John’s will be back in action on Sunday hosting their biggest foe yet, in Syracuse (7-2). In the team’s 90th meeting, it will be held at the world’s most popular arena, Madison Square Garden. Look out for the upset.

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