LOS ANGELES — Romello White scored 22 points and No. 16 Arizona State held off St. John’s 82-70 on Friday night in the opener of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic tripleheader at Staples Center.
Shannon Evans II added 18 points for the Sun Devils (8-0), off to their best start since 1980-81.
St. John’s rallied from a 13-point deficit early in the second half to trail 71-70 on a layup by Shamorie Ponds after he stole the ball from White.
After Remy Martin missed a layup for the Sun Devils, Bryan Trimble Jr. threw the ball away near the Red Storm’s bench and they never got any closer.
Kodi Justice hit a 3-pointer for Arizona State, launching a game-ending 11-0 run. The Sun Devils made 23 of 27 free throws in the game, including their last eight in a row.
Ponds scored 19 points, Marvin Clark II added 18 points and Tariq Owens had 17 points for the Red Storm (8-2), who had their three-game winning streak ended.
ASU made nine 3-pointers, with Vitaliy Shibel, Evans and Justice hitting three each. Shibel, who fouled out, was 3 of 17 from long range coming in.
St. John’s led 19-18 when the Sun Devils closed the first half on a 28-15 run to lead 46-34. Justice scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers, and Evans added seven in the spurt.
During St. John’s winning streak, the Red Storm held opponents to 52.7 points and forced 22.3 turnovers. The Sun Devils committed 14 turnovers, but fell short of their 92.7-point scoring average, which ranked fifth nationally.
The Sun Devils are preparing for Pac-12 play with a rugged schedule despite being picked to finish sixth in the league. Next up is No. 2 Kansas, which will be their fourth top-10 non-conference opponent under coach Bobby Hurley after taking on one in the last 17 seasons. They already played then-No. 15 Xavier and will host Vanderbilt, which made last season’s NCAA Tournament, on Dec. 20.
St. John’s: The Red Storm host Iona on Dec. 17, their first home game in two weeks.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils have a quick turnaround, playing at No. 2 Kansas on Sunday.