The Red Storm (15-16, 4-14 Big East) had just six scholarship players available for its regular season finale, as Big East leading scorer Shamorie Ponds missed his second-straight game with injury and junior forward Kassoum Yakwe sat out due to illness.
St. John’s limited the Friars (19-12, 10-8) to just one field goal in the final 11 minutes of the game. Of the Red Storm’s 14 conference losses, 10 were by seven points or less.
Marvin Clark II led the way with a game-high 14 points, marking his fifth-straight contest in double figures. The Kansas City native sank three of his seven tries from deep and also grabbed six rebounds.
Justin Simon scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half to help fuel the Red Storm’s run. The redshirt sophomore from California also stuffed the stat sheet with nine assists, six rebounds and four steals.
Two other Johnnies finished in double figures, as Bashir Ahmed and Tariq Owens each added a dozen. Ahmed and Owens also chipped in seven and five rebounds, respectively. Owens swatted two blocks to bring his season-long total to 93, just one shy of tying for second on the program’s single-single record list.
Amar Alibegovic played significant minutes for the second-straight game, scoring six points and grabbing three boards in 37 minutes.
Sophomore walk-on Justin Cole excelled in the most meaningful minutes of his collegiate career so far, grabbing a rebound and holding his own defensively in 10 minutes of action. With the Johnnies down by three late in the contest, Cole recorded a huge steal on the defensive end to set up a potential game-tying possession.
St. John’s struggled with turnovers for the second-straight game without Ponds, coughing up 18 possessions that resulted in 18 points for the Friars.
St. John’s will be the nine seed in this week’s Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, securing a first-round date with Georgetown on Wednesday night. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m on FS1.
Ponds Makes All-Big East Team
After concluding the regular season as the conference’s leading scorer, Shamorie Ponds has earned a spot on the All-Big East First Team.
Ponds, who averaged 21.6 points per game in 28 appearances this season, becomes the first St. John’s player since D’Angelo Harrison in 2015 and the 16th Johnnie all-time to earn a spot on the conference’s top team.
Despite missing three games due to injury during Big East play, the Thomas Jefferson High School product is on the verge of breaking the St. John’s sophomore scoring record and entering the top 10 on the Red Storm’s single-season scoring list.
Ponds will be attempting to catch his head coach, Chris Mullin, in both those respects, sitting just 23 points away from his mentor for the sophomore scoring record and the 10th highest point total in program history (629).