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St. John’s Wins First MSG Game of the 2015-16 Season




Yesterday, the Red Storm (5-3) won their first Madison Square Garden game of the season against St. Francis Brooklyn in the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival. The 63-56 victory was the program’s 1,800th win as St. John’s became only the ninth team in history to reach that milestone. It also marked the first win at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” for Chris Mullin, who was making his MSG coaching debut.

Freshman Yankuba Sima had a career high 17 points and 10 rebounds to get his first double-double for St. John’s. Durand Johnson also finished with a career-high 19 points. Christian Jones added 13 points concluding one of the three players who finished with double-figures. St. John’s had 12 blocks, including five from Sima, to limit the Terriers to just 33.9 percent (21-of-62) shooting from the floor. Yunus Hopkinson and Antonio Jenifer of St. Francis had 10 points each. The Terriers shot just 28.6 percent (6-of-21) from distance.

After a pair of free throws from Felix Balamou, the game was tied at 12-12, Chris Hooper made back to back layups to jumpstart an 11-2 run. With 6:43 left to play in the half, this gave the Terriers a 23-14 lead. St. John’s fired back and surged to a 10-point lead by scoring 19 straight points within six minutes. Sima started with a slam dunk before Johnson added a layup and Federico Mussini contributed two free throws, making it a three-point game. Johnson made back-to-back 3-pointers and also scored the next eight points, as the Red Storm went up 28-23. St. Francis Brooklyn gained zero points for a stretch of 6:41 before Hopkinson knocked down a jump shot with only two seconds left on the clock making it a 33-25 game at the half.

Sima scored the first seven points in the second half for the Red Storm. He converted a pair of layups and shot his first-career 3-pointer, leading St. John’s 40-29 at the 17:31 mark. St. Francis Brooklyn scored six-straight points and cut the lead to 57-55 with only 1:04 left on the clock. After a time out,  Johnson shot his key jump shot and the Red Storm went 4-of-4 at the line to secure the victory.

Wednesday at 5, St. John’s takes their next game back to Carnesecca Arena and hosts Niagara for the 100th all-time meeting between the programs.

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