Fordham guard Joseph Chartouny is fouled by St. John's forward...

Fordham guard Joseph Chartouny is fouled by St. John's forward Kassoum Yakwe at Rose Hill Gymnasium in the Bronx Wednesday, Dec 2, 2015. Credit: Steven Ryan

Back in Steve Lavin’s first season at St. John’s, he paid a visit to Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym and watched his team cough up a 21-point lead. Chris Mullin’s first visit Wednesday night might have been worse as his young St. John’s team never led and was thoroughly pounded, 73-57, by a Rams team that is on the upswing under first-year coach Jeff Neubauer.

The size and experience of the Rams (5-1) was too much for the Red Storm (4-3), which committed 19 turnovers and trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half and never got closer than 12. Ryan Rhoomes was a horse in the middle for Fordham with 26 points and 12 rebounds, and the Rams got double-figures scoring from Mandell Thomas (14) and Jon Severe (14).

Felix Balamou led St. John’s with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and Christian Jones added 11 points. Freshman Kassoum Yakwe, who recently was granted his eligibility by the NCAA, made his debut with nine points, three rebounds and one block.

It’s no secret that pressure defense leads to problems for St. John’s. The Rams used full-court pressure and traps on the ball out high in the halfcourt sets to disrupt the Red Storm, which committed 13 first-half turnovers, leading to a 13-2 margin in favor of Fordham on points off turnovers.

After trailing by six early, St. John’s cut the deficit to one point, but then Mandell Thomas got hot, hitting three straight three-pointers to ignite a 25-8 Rams run that also included eight points from Jon Severe for a 41-23 lead just before halftime.

The Rams lead grew to 19 on a three-point play by Rhoomes that made it 53-34. St. John’s responded with a 7-0 surge, but a slam dunk by Thomas followed by a corner jumper from Severe began a 12-3 Fordham burst to restore a 65-44 lead and put the Storm’s hopes of a comeback on the back burner.


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