UNCASVILLE, Conn. — David Caraher scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half to lead St. John’s to a 78-63 victory over Massachusetts on Sunday in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off consolation game.
After trailing for the first time all season at the half, the Red Storm (5-2) dominated the final 11 minutes of play to avoid losing to their second mid-major school of the season.
Josh Roberts scored 16 points with eight rebounds, and Julian Champagnie had 12 points for St. John’s.
T.J. Weeks led UMass (5-2) with 19 points, Tre Mitchell added 14 and Keon Clergeot chipped in with 11. The Minutemen committed a season-high 17 turnovers, which St. John’s converted into 23 points.
UMass took a 53-48 lead on a three-point play by Mitchell with 10:54 remaining, but St. John’s stormed back with a 13-0 run, led by five points from Champagnie, to take a 61-53 lead with 7:06 left.
The Red Storm did it with second-leading scorer Mustapha Heron on the bench with four fouls. Heron took a seat after picking up his second straight offensive foul with 15:50 left in the half and didn’t return.
“Good bounce back for our basketball team after the tough loss against Arizona State, a very good basketball team,” Storm coach Mike Anderson said. “Guys came off the bench and they gave us a big lift. When our team plays good, our bench plays well.
“These guys (off the bench) are not just going to get mop-up minutes. They’re getting quality minutes. That can only make them better players. You get more comfortable with what we’re doing. ‘Stay ready,’ is my motto. Stay ready, you never know when that opportunity is coming. This was game number seven and so I’m still trying to figure out what I do have and I saw some good things today.”
Caraher was one of the keys off the bench Sunday. “I would just say Coach preaches it to us every day in practice, don’t try to make the 10-point play,” Caraher said. “Just continuing to trust him and trust my teammates.
Weeks scored 17 first-half points to give UMass a 38-37 lead. The Minutemen made just two field goals in the final five minutes of the half — three-pointers from Clergeot and Mitchell — but went 4-for-4 from the foul line. Weeks made a pair with 31 seconds left to give them the halftime lead.
A three-point play by Rasheem Dunn gave St. John’s a 31-25 lead with just inside six minutes to play but were outscored 13-6 from there. Roberts had a team-high eight points in the half for the Red Storm.