St. John’s bounces back with win over St. Francis
Dec 09, 2015 | 10754 views | 0 0 comments | 173 173 recommendations | email to a friend | print
St. John’s erased an early nine-point deficit by closing the first half on a 19-2 run and withstood a late charge from St. Francis Brooklyn to register a 63-56 victory in the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival.

It was the program’s 1,800th victory as St. John’s became only the ninth team in history to reach the milestone, while it also marked the first win at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” for Chris Mullin, who was making his Garden coaching debut on Sunday.

“I love this place,” said Mullin. “I think I enjoyed playing here more than coaching, but yet again it’s a new experience. A 52-year-old guy having a new experience like that is pretty cool.”

Freshman Yankuba Sima had a career performance, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to secure his first double-double for St. John’s (5-3). Durand Johnson also finished with a career-high 19 points, including a jumper to beat the shot clock and give the Red Storm a four-point lead with just 32 seconds left in regulation.

Christian Jones added 13 points as the Red Storm had three players finish with double-figures.

Yunus Hopkinson and Antonio Jenifer had 10 points apiece to pace St. Francis Brooklyn (3-5). The Terriers shot just 28.6 percent (6-of-21) from distance.

“I give St. Francis a lot of credit, they are a tough team and they play hard,” said Mullin. “We will learn from this and in the long run be better for it.”

St. John’s was set to return to Carnesecca Arena and hosts Niagara on Wednesday at 5 p.m. for the 100th all-time meeting between the programs. Meanwhile, St. Francis welcomes New Jersey Institute of Technology to Brooklyn on Thursday for a 7 p.m. contest.

Women top Kansas

Led by the dynamic scoring duo of Aliyyah Handford and Danaejah Grant, the St. John’s Red Storm registered its best offensive output of the season on Sunday afternoon, picking up a convincing 86-71 win on the road at Kansas.

“This was a great team win for us today,” said head coach Joe Tartamella.

The Red Storm has now recorded six-straight victories by an average of 12.5 points per game.

Handford netted a career-high 33 points on a 16-of-25 shooting effort from the floor. The senior guard also dished out five assists and grabbed five boards in the win for the Red Storm.

A force on the defensive end, Handford added four steals to complete her outstanding day on the stat sheet.

“She’s an unbelievable player,” said Tartamella. “I thought she did a great job of finding gaps and finding seams to get open. She pushed the tempo when she needed to and she made some really difficult shots, which is what great players do.”

Handford is the first player to score 30 points against the Jayhawks since Odyssey Sims scored 31 for Baylor on January 19, 2014.

Grant also had a stellar afternoon for the Red Storm, recording 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including a two-for-four effort from three. Grant, who leads the Big East in scoring on the season, is now averaging 20.1 points per contest and is just 24 points away from recording 1,000 for her St. John’s career.

The women’s squad was scheduled to return to Queens for a Wednesday matchup with Yale. Tip-off is 7 p.m.

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