Federico Mussini made five 3-pointers and had a team-high 20 points to lead St. John’s (7-5), while Christian Jones added 10 points and 11 rebounds for his second-career double-double.
Yankuba Sima scored six points to go with a career-high 14 rebounds as the Red Storm finished plus-9 (45-36) on the glass.
“Overall, [our energy] level was pretty good,” said St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin. “We took care of the ball and got 22 more shots. We got to the free throw line, but didn’t make shots.”
St. John’s scored the first six points of the second half to quickly turn a four-point halftime deficit into a two-point lead. Jones converted a layup-and-one and Mussini made a three to put the Red Storm up 41-39. Lynn answered with a 3 at the other end, but another Mussini triple put St. John’s up 45-44. A Jenkins 3-pointer later tied the game before Mussini converted again from downtown to give the Red Storm a 50-47 lead at the 14:39 mark.
Damon Lynn sparked a 15-0 run with a 3-pointer as the Highlanders opened a 12-point advantage. NJIT turned the ball over on an inbounds play and the Red Storm made it a three-point game with a pair of free throws.
However, the Highlanders broke the St. John’s pressure on the next possession leading to a bucket by Lynn to go up 77-72. NJIT then sank six straight free-throws in the final 34 seconds to seal the win.
The Red Storm limited its turnovers to 10, but struggled at the free-throw line going 18-of-34 (52.9 percent) in the contest. NJIT turned the ball over 19 times.
“At any level when you play with aggression and you put your imprint on the game, you dictate what goes on,” said Mullin. “The numbers would say we did that. If we made more shots we’d probably be sitting here with a win.”
St. John’s returned to action on December 22 with a 9 p.m. game against South Carolina as part of the Hall of Fame Shootout at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Women lose to Duquesne
Jade Walker set a pair of career highs with 22 points and 12 rebounds, but her efforts were not enough to lead St. John’s past Duquesne, as the Dukes won their 17th-straight home game, 76-57, on Saturday evening at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
“Give credit to Duquesne who played a great game tonight,” said head coach Joe Tartamella. “Our effort was not where it needed to be and unfortunately it cost us in a number of areas in the game tonight.”
The loss marked the first for the Red Storm (8-2) in over a month, as the team’s last defeat came against No. 19 UCLA in the season opener on November 13.
Walker’s career efforts marked the second double-double of the season for the Red Storm. Danaejah Grant tallied 16 points and 11 rebounds in a win at Rutgers on November 19.
Averaging a combined 40.0 points per game entering the contest, Grant and Aliyyah Handford totaled just 19 points on Saturday evening. Grant finished the contest with 10 points, her 13th-straight in double figures, while Handford was restricted to nine points in 15 minutes of action due to foul trouble.
The St. John’s women were scheduled to return to action Tuesday night with a home game in Queens against Fairfield. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.