There were never any doubts that St. John’s has real potential. On Sunday, everyone glimpsed what the Red Storm can be.
St. John’s was something to behold in a 7 1⁄2-minute stretch that spanned the first and second halves, producing a 34-4 run en route to an 89-66 non-conference victory over Stony Brook at Carnesecca Arena.
With junior guard Greg Williams Jr. leading the way, the Red Storm had it all: ball movement to get open looks, baseline-to-baseline defense that the Seawolves couldn’t withstand and a dynamic fast break.
Williams had nine points in a 22-2 run during the final 4:23 of the first half as St. John’s (4-1) turned a six-point deficit into a 49-35 lead. He added five points as the Red Storm recorded a 12-2 burst in the first 3:05 of the second half for a 61-37 lead.
"We definitely gave bursts of what we’re capable of being," Williams said. "If we just continue to expand those bursts . . . we’re capable of being a great team."
Williams tied a career high with 21 points, shot 8-for-11 and added six steals, four rebounds and three assists. The Red Storm shot 57% from the floor, was 8-for-20 from three-point range and turned 29 turnovers into 33 points. Julian Champagnie had 16 points and Isaih Moore added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Mouhamadou Gueye had 15 points and seven rebounds, Frankie Policelli added 14 points and 10 rebounds, Juan Felix Rodriguez had 11 points and four assists and Jaden Sayles contributed 10 points and eight rebounds for the Seawolves (1-2).
Williams said that "being one of the leaders, it was my responsibility to get the guys going." His aggressive play inspired a closing run in the first half in which they allowed SBU 10 possessions that yielded two free throws. The other nine resulted in 0-for-5 shooting with four turnovers that became nine St. John’s points.
St. John’s coach Mike Anderson was asked if the 7 1⁄2 minutes that bridged the halves are what his team can be and replied, "We’re nowhere near where we’re going to be." He added that his vision has the Red Storm playing "consistently like that throughout the game."
SBU couldn’t cope with St. John’s athleticism and style, but those first 15 minutes could mean that despite suiting up eight new players, the Seawolves could be a contender in the America East, which begins conference play Dec. 19.
Coach Geno Ford said there is "a ton of stuff to clean up" and added, "We have to be tougher with the ball and we need to be handling the ball better at [three positions]. Gueye found his level today, but [St. John’s] showed how good they might be this season. They did an excellent job recruiting and their new players will give anyone a hard time."
Texas Tech transfer added. St. John’s announced it has signed 6-10 Eashia Nyiwe on a transfer from Texas Tech. Nyiwe played last season for Clarendon College, a junior college, and averaged 8.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Nyiwe will be eligible in December 2021, but St. John’s will seek a waiver to get him eligible immediately.