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St. John's cruises past College of Charleston to start season 2-0

D'Angelo Harrison makes a move toward the basket

D'Angelo Harrison makes a move toward the basket during St. John's season-opening win over Detroit. (Nov. 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- D'Angelo Harrison said St. John's experience is starting to show, even if the Red Storm still plays mostly freshmen and sophomores.

Harrison scored 21 points and the Red Storm took a big lead early and hung on for a 64-53 victory over College of Charleston at the Charleston Classic Thursday.

St. John's (2-0) needed to rally on Tuesday in their opener to beat Detroit, 77-74. This time, the young team showed the poise of a veteran group to keep building the lead and responding each time Charleston (1-1) tried to tighten things up.

"We're starting to get that experience on the road," Harrison said.

Ten of the 13 St. John's players on the roster are underclassmen.

The Red Storm didn't win many games last season away from New York City, counting only victories at Cincinnati and DePaul. Yet Harrison said he and his teammates took away plenty of lessons they used at the TD Arena.

"We were much more calm out there," said Harrison, who scored 22 points in the season-opening win over Detroit on Tuesday.

Freshman JaKarr Sampson added eight points and 10 rebounds for the Red Storm. Amir Garrett had 11 and Phil Greene 10.

St. John's coach Steve Lavin praised his team's effort, particularly the balance they showed between aggressiveness on offense and intelligence on defense. "They not only showed athleticism and quickness but smart basketball, too," he said.

The Red Storm opened up an 11-point lead midway through the first half and were not pushed by the Cougars, who are hosting the eight-team event.

Harrison had a three-pointer and seven quick points to put St. John's ahead 22-11 with less than six minutes gone. College of Charleston never got closer than eight points the rest of the way. Nori Johnson led the Cougars with 11 points while Trent Wiedeman had 10.

The two programs had never played before although they share some significant connections. College of Charleston's basketball architect, John Kresse, played at St. John's for Red Storm great Joe Lapchick and was an assistant for Lou Carnesecca.

Kresse came down South, "Noo Yawk" accent intact, and turned the Cougars into giant killers -- most notably defeating Maryland in the 1997 NCAA Tournament before nearly toppling eventual champ Arizona in a 73-69 loss.

Kresse spoke with the Red Storm players at Lavin's invitation, sharing stories of the program that he is trying to rebuild. "He gave us a little history," Lavin said.

The TD Arena court is named after Kresse, who watched from the stands and was congratulated by people on both sides.

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