“Overall tonight I was happy with our effort and our energy,” said St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin. “There were some areas [that need work], missed some open threes and a lot of free throws obviously, but overall I think that effort and energy will win us some games.”
Durand Johnson led three St. John’s double-figure scorers with 16 points to go with a team-high five rebounds. He was named the Hall of Fame Shootout’s Most Outstanding Player. The Most Valuable Player award from the winning team went to Gamecocks’ guard Duane Notice, who scored 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Federico Mussini delivered his 10th double-digit scoring effort for St. John’s (7-6) finishing with 12 points, while Christian Jones contributed 10 points. The Red Storm shot 44.9 percent (22-of-49) from the floor, including a 53.8 percent effort in the opening 20 minutes.
South Carolina got a double-double effort from Michael Carrera, who went for 16 points and 12 rebounds. The Gamecocks shot 47.4 percent (27-of-57) from the floor and made 7-of-13 3-pointers (53.8 percent).
For the second-straight game, St. John’s struggled at the free-throw line shooting 12-for-27 (44.4 percent). South Carolina converted 14-of-19 (73.7 percent) free-throw attempts.
“We just have to get better every day,” said Johnson “We shoot free throws every day in practice and they’ll start to go in. I don’t know what it is, but every day is another day to get better at it, so that’s what we have to do.”
St. John’s is in the middle of an eight-day layoff before returning to action on New Year’s Eve for the Big East opener against Creighton at 2 p.m. at Carnesecca Arena.
Women stay unbeaten at home for the year
Led by a highly efficient 22-point effort from Aliyyah Handford, the St. John’s Red Storm remained unbeaten at home on the season, downing Fairfield by a score of 73-54 inside Carnesecca Arena last week.
“This was a good bounce back win for us coming off of a tough loss on the road,” said head coach Joe Tartamella. “This was important for us going into the break that we were able to hold our turf here at home. We had some good performances and set the tone in the second quarter when we were able to open it up a little bit.
“There are some really good things to take away from the game and others to improve on. I’m very happy to be able to come back, pick ourselves up and get a win,” he added.
With the win, the Red Storm wraps up non-conference action with a record of 9-2. Fairfield falls to 4-6 on the year with the defeat.
Handford’s game-high 22 points came in an impressive fashion, as the senior from Newark connected on 10 of her 13 shots attempts. She also filled up the stat sheet in several other categories, collecting seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. In addition, Handford matched a career-high with two blocks.
Danaejah Grant also put forth an impressive performance for the Red Storm, tallying 16 points, eight rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes of action.
Making her first start of the season, Jade Walker was the third and final player to reach double figures for the Red Storm, recording 13 points, six assists, three assists and two blocks.
As a team, the Red Storm had its best game on the glass this season in terms of rebounding margin, pulling down 40 boards to the Stags’ 25. Imani Littleton matched a career high with eight of those rebounds in addition to five points.
Aaliyah Lewis tallied four points and five assists on the afternoon, while Crystal Simmons knocked down a pair of three for a season-high six points.
The women were scheduled to open Big East play on the road against Creighton on December 29.