Shamorie Ponds scored 26 points and Marcus LoVett added 18 as St. John’s rallied from a double-digit second-half deficit to beat Oregon State 82-77 on Thursday in first round of the Advocare Invitational at Orlando, Florida.
At 5-0, St. John’s is off to its best start since 2009-10, when the Red Storm won six-straight to open the season. St. John’s last won a regular-season tournament in 2010, taking titles at the Great Alaska Shootout and the MSG Holiday Festival. The Red Storm plays Missouri — a 95-58 winner over Long Beach State — on Friday.
After trailing by 10 midway through the second half, St. John’s went up 69-67 with 4 minutes left on Kassoum Yakwe’s rebound slam.
“That’s a game we never win last year,” said coach Chris Mullin. “At some point in the game there’s a point where you can either separate or pull together, and they came together and got it done.”
LoVett scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half, making five of his eight tries from the floor. On the game, LoVett shot 7-of-14 from the field, grabbed five boards and made three steals.
Marvin Clark II added 10 points, including a 3-pointer shortly after Yakwe’s go-ahead basket, for St. John’s.
Oregon State (2-2) got 22 points from Stephen Thompson Jr. and Ethan Thompson had 19.
“I think we stepped it up defensively as a unit and we just came together,” said Ponds, who was 15 for 15 from the foul line. “We were down, but even with eight minutes left we knew it wasn’t over. We knew we had enough fight in us to get the job done.”