GAME NOTES: Still searching for their first Big East Conference, the St. John's Red Storm will play their final game of the season at Carnesecca Arena on Thursday night, as they entertain the Seton Hall Pirates.
Seton Hall brings an 11-7 overall record, which includes a 2-3 league ledger into the contest, and the Pirates recently snapped a three-game losing streak by posting a 67-57 win at Georgetown last Saturday. SHU improved to 3-2 in true road games this season, and this is the finale of a three-game trek for the club, which returns home for its next two, starting this Saturday against DePaul.
St. John's picked up a win in its most recent outing as well, but had to step out of conference in order to do so as it got past visiting Dartmouth last Saturday in a 69-55 final. The victory put the brakes on a five-game slide for the Red Storm, who will play the finale of their current three-game homestand tonight. SJU is 8-3 in front of the hometown faithful this season, and it will play its remaining home games at New York's famed Madison Square Garden.
St. John's owns a 55-34 lead in the all-time series with Seton Hall, but the Pirates have won six of the last 10 meetings. The two teams will meet in Newark on Feb. 13 to close out the regular-season series.
Fuquan Edwin drained 5-of-8 3-point attempts on his way to a game-high 24 points, as he helped Seton Hall notch a double-digit win at Georgetown last weekend. Support came from Sterling Gibbs (11 points, nine assists) and Eugene Teague (10 points, nine rebounds), as the Pirates made up for a 39.2 percent overall shooting effort by hitting 11-of-20 long-range launches. The Hoyas converted 17-of-21 free throws, but shot only 34 percent from the field, missing 14 of their 18 3-point tries along the way.
Gibbs (15.3 ppg, 4.4 apg) continues to pace the Pirates in both scoring and assists, while Edwin (12.6 ppg, 3.2 spg) contributes at both ends of the court. Teague is nearly averaging a double-double with 10.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per outing, for a team that puts up 76.3 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .447 overall, .366 from beyond the arc, and .734 from the charity stripe. Defensively, the Pirates are permitting 71.4 ppg, with foes draining 43.0 percent of their total shots, which includes a 37.0 percent mark from distance.
St. John's finally broke out of the doldrums in its recent clash with Dartmouth, despite a lackluster shooting performance (.393). Phil Greene IV led the Red Storm with 16 points, as he nailed four of the team's eight 3- pointers, and he was joined in double figures by JaKarr Sampson who tallied 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Orlando Sanchez grabbed 10 rebounds, but went just 3-of-10 from the floor to finish with eight points. Dartmouth was held to 34.5 percent field goal efficiency, with the Big Green really struggling in the second half (.267). SJU forced 15 turnovers and held a sizable margin in points from the foul line (17-6).
D'Amgleo Harrison is one of the more dynamic performers in the Big East, and he is averaging 18.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. However, Harrison had only nine points in the win over Dartmouth, as he went just 2-of-6 from the field. Sampson (11.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg) is the only other double-digit scorer on a club that typically generates 73.2 ppg while allowing 67.8 ppg. The Red Storm are limiting their opponents to just 39.7 percent accuracy from the floor, and they do a nice job confusing them as they force more than 13 turnovers per outing.
While the Pirates are sure to put forth maximum effort against a long-time rival, expect the Red Storm to close out this year's run at their on-campus arena on a positive note.
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