SJU Defeats Marist, 65-44, Falls To Virginia Tech, 81-67
St. John's Red Storm faced the Red Foxes from Marist in the first round of the Aeropostale Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. St. John's came in the game with a very impressive 8-1 record while Marist began the afternoon contest with a 3-6 record.
St. John's controlled the game from the starting tip off, but could not convert on its first shot of the game. A minute later Paris Horne hit a trey and gave the Red Storm their first lead of the game. He blocked a Marist shot and then scored on the other end, breaking a tie at 12 and putting the Red storm up by 2, 14-12. Less than a minute later, Rob Thomas, filling in for sophomore center Justin Burrell, who sustained a fractured jaw in practice Thursday, did the same, putting the Red Storm up 16-12.
A three-point play put SJU up 23-12. The teams traded long balls, giving St. John's a 30-23 lead with 4:34 to go in the first half. The Red Storm led at half time by 10, 35-25.
The Red Storm extended their lead in the second half, with sophomore Sean Evans scoring a career-high 19 points. Evans was supported by well-rounded scoring by his teammates, Paris Horne (12 points), Kennedy (11 points) and Thomas (11 points). The Red Storm broke the game open with a 16-1 run in the second half and led 51-26 with just under 11 minutes to go in the contest. St. John's controlled the boards by pulling down a season high 52 rebounds. The win earned St. John's the chance to face Virginia Tech in the championship title game on Sunday, December 21.
This is the second year in a row that the Red Storm faced Virginia Tech for the championship, only to lose. Virginia Tech led by two players who scored more than 20 points each and defeated SJU again. A.D. Vasallo hit for a game-high 24 points and teammate Malcolm Delaney scored 22 more to lead Virginia Tech over St. John's 81-67 in the championship round of the Aeropostale Holiday Festival for the second year in a row. St. John's made their 43rd appearance in the tournament hoping for their 15th championship title. Delaney, who scored 25 points of his team's win over Columbia in the first round, was selected as tournament MVP.
Paris Horne led four St. John's players in double figures. Horne tallied 14 points while Sean Evans scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Kennedy hit for 13 points to go along with five assists and two blocked shots. Thomas, filling in for injured sophomore Justin Burrell, scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds. In spite of their efforts, the Red Storm (9-2) was overwhelmed by the faster Virginia Tech Hokies (8-4), who led the game in rebounds 42-34.
St. John's will play its next home game at MSG on Saturday, December 27 in a contest that begins at noon.