Julian Champagnie had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Posh Alexander scored 17 points to lead five scorers in double figures as St. John's grinded its way to an 87-74 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson that was more difficult than expected Saturday night at its on-campus arena in Queens, New York.
Stef Smith scored 14 points, Montez Mathis had 13 and Joel Soriano added 12 for St. John's (3-1), which shot 46.2 percent from the field despite being 5 of 22 from 3-point range.
Devon Dunn tallied a game-high 24 points for FDU (0-3), which had lost by 44 points at Seton Hall and by 36 points at Northwestern. The Knights' other scheduled road game thus far --at Drexel-- was postponed when their bus broke down on the way from northern New Jersey to Philadelphia.
But the Knights made it across the multiple bridges to Queens without a hitch and made their presence felt by limiting St. John's to 3-for-13 shooting (23.1 percent) from three-point range in the opening half and trailed 45-32 at intermission.
Back-to-back baskets off FDU turnovers, including a second-chance three-pointer by Dylan Addae-Wusu, put St. John's ahead 63-45 with 11:04 to go. That finally gave the Johnnies a very comfortable cushion and prompted a timeout by FDU coach Greg Herenda.
Another unforced turnover by FDU coming out of the timeout led to Aaron Wheeler's long two-point jumper and a 65-45 lead. The Knights eventually cut the deficit to nine although the hosts were never in any danger of losing the lead.
The Knights shot 47.1 percent from the field and made 10 of 20 3-point attempts but committed 23 turnovers to St. John's 15.
FDU trailed 33-18 with 7:46 to go in the half and was fortunate that the score wasn't worse. Ten turnovers by the Knights had given the Red Storm plenty of opportunities to get their fast break in gear, but some of those chances were squandered because of three St. John's turnovers on the fast break.
In one span of 3:37 the Johnnies committed four turnovers, and all were of the unforced variety.
The St. John's offense bogged down at that juncture, managing only six points during a span of six minutes. But FDU couldn't take advantage, only cutting the deficit to 39-28 before Alexander fed Champagnie for a layup off a broken play, giving the Johnnies a 41-28 lead.
St. John's was missing its third-leading scorer, reserve Tareq Coburn (10.0 points), out with a non-COVID illness.
--Field Level Media