(St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin – Photo by Jason Schott)
St. John’s came away with a 46-43 victory over UCF in the third-place game of the Advocare Invitational on Sunday, leaving Florida with a pair of wins.
The Red Storm improved to 6-1 with the victory, while UCF, who was picked to finish third in the American Athletic Conference, fell to 4-2.
The 43 points St. John’s allowed was the lowest point total allowed to a Division I opponent since the Red Storm defeated St. Francis Brooklyn 59-42 on December 5, 2006.
With 15 blocks, the Red Storm tied a single-game program record, a mark that had been reached just three times in St. John’s history, the most recent of which occurred on November 26, 2013, against Longwood.
St. John’s shattered the single-game Advocare Invitational record for blocks, which stood at 10.
Tariq Owens led the way with five blocks, while Justin Simon, who also scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds, set a new career-high with four.
Marcus LoVett tallied a game-high 12 points to go along with two steals. Marvin Clark II was the only other Johnnie to finish in double figures, going 3-for-5 from three-point range and sinking a pair of free throws for 11 points. The Kansas City, Mo., native also grabbed a career-high seven rebounds.
Despite tallying just six points on the contest, Shamorie Ponds tied a career-high with 10 rebounds in addition to dishing out four assists and recording three steals.
Sunday marked the first time St. John’s had won scoring fewer than 50 points since a 48-44 victory over Niagara on Dec. 9, 2015.
The Red Storm could not have started the contest much better, scoring the game’s first 10 points over the opening two and a half minutes. Clark drained a pair of 3-pointers, while LoVett and Bashir Ahmed each added a bucket. LoVett started off the tear by recording a steal on the first possession of the game before adding another just a minute and a half later.
After six unanswered from UCF to cut the lead to four, LoVett went on a personal 5-0 run, bumping the St. John’s lead back to nine by the game’s second media timeout.
Following their hot start, the Johnnies went cold offensively, making just five of their final 24 shot attempts in the opening stanza. UCF took advantage, ending the period on a 7-0 run to take a 23-22 lead into the break.
Tacko Fall started the second half with a slam to extend the UCF lead to three on the period’s opening possession, but Simon and LoVett responded with triples to put the Johnnies back on top by three, 28-25, with less than three minutes gone in the half.
Trailing 31-28 after a 6-0 UCF run, the Johnnies held the Knights scoreless over the next six and a half minutes, tallying the game’s next seven points and moving ahead by four, 35-31, following a circus layup from LoVett through traffic. AJ Davis snapped the scoreless streak with a free throw ,but Clark answered with his third 3-pointer of the game. Simon then converted on a put-back layup before Ponds made two free throws, extending the run to 14-1 and putting the Johnnies ahead by 10, 42-32, with 6:21 to play. The Red Storm held UCF without a field goal for 9:26.
UCF made a final push, pulling within one, 44-43, following a Dayon Griffin 3-pointer, the Knights’ lone triple of the contest, with 2:36 to go.
Those were UCF’s last points, as the Red Storm held them scoreless for the remainder of the game to secure the victory.