Sandro Mamukelashvili dominates St. John’s basketball in league opener

Sandro Mamukelashvili attempts a layup against the St. John's basketball team (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Sandro Mamukelashvili attempts a layup against the St. John's basketball team (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) /

St. John’s basketball fell in its Big East season opener against Seton Hall.

Sandro Mamukelashvili dominated the St. John’s basketball team (5-2, 0-1 Big East) in the league opener for both programs as Seton Hall (4-3, 1-0 Big East) pulled away with a 77-68 victory.

Mamukelashvili posted a career-high 32 points, nine points, and three assists on 12-of-18 shooting from the floor and 3-of-5 from 3-point range.

“We had no answer for Sandro [Mamukelashvili],” St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson said following his team’s loss.

The Big East Preseason First Team selection had an answer for every St. John’s run as the Johnnies never we able to grab a lead in its first Big East game of the season.

Behind 24 points from Julian Champagnie, St. John’s was abysmal from 3-point range, shooting 4-of-21 from beyond the arc, although shooting 43.9-percent from the field.

Seton Hall used their size inside to out-rebounded the Red Storm 41-32, but St. John’s rallied in the second half to draw even at 38 with points in the paint against the Pirates.

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Despite falling in a ten-point hole in the first half, St. John’s rallied to tie the score twice, but ultimately saw Seton Hall take a five-point lead into halftime and begin the second half on a 6-0 run, dropping the Johnnies to its largest deficit of the game to that point.

Seton Hall would extend its lead to 12, 46-34, but the Red Storm had more runs in them, coming within three of the Pirates twice in the second half, most notably with 3:07 to go in the game, but it was Takal Molson that carried the scoring load down the stretch.

Molson scored nine of his 14 points within the final four minutes of the Hall’s victory.

St. John’s saw the return of Rasheem Dunn (concussion) who came off the bench in the loss and only saw three minutes of action in the first half.

“I think it’s important,” Anderson said on the return of his senior guard, “He gives our backcourt a little more strength, but the key is gonna be a little more consistency. Without a doubt, I think he’s gonna impact this team.”

Dunn was a major part of the comeback bid in the second half, scoring all of his ten points in the final 20 minutes.

Greg Williams Jr., 12, and Vince Cole, 11, were the only other St. John’s players to reach double-figures.

St. John’s basketball must respond on a short turnaround

There is no time for the Johnnies to dwell on its loss to Seton Hall as the Red Storm will board the bus to the nation’s capital to face the Georgetown Hoyas (2-2) on Sunday evening.

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Georgetown also begins its conference schedule on Friday night against No. 9 Villanova (4-1).

St. John’s and Georgetown will tipoff at 7:30pm EST (Fox Sports 1) on Sunday.

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