The St. John’s basketball team finished strong against Florida State.
A rout looked like it was brewing for the St. John’s basketball team.
The Red Storm opened up a 20-point lead against Florida State with 15:20 remaining in the second half and it looked like the Johnnies would head back to New York with a convincing victory against an ACC opponent.
However, the Seminoles (3-10, 1-1 ACC) never stopped fighting.
“We wanted to treat this game like a conference game,” head coach Mike Anderson said.
Leonard Hamilton’s team cut the St. John’s lead to six, 78-72, with 5:06 remaining before Andre Curbelo and Joel Soriano would combine to score the next nine points and put the game out of reach as the Red Storm (11-1, 1-0 Big East) prevailed, 93-79.
“I thought we were in a hurry and it enabled them to get some easy outlets,” head coach Mike Anderson explained on his thoughts when he saw his team’s lead dwindled.
“You are going to get some punches thrown at you, but I think a lot of it has to do with how you punch back.”
Soriano, name the Most Valuable Player of the Orange Bowl Classic, finished with a career-high 23 points and 12 rebounds as he notched his tenth double-double of the season.
“We are trying to start everything inside with [Soriano],” Anderson explained.
St. John’s, coming off a week layoff, was not settling for permitter jumpers and getting anything it wanted in the paint against the porous Florida State defense with 46 points coming in the paint.
The dominance down low allowed shooters, mainly Dylan Addae-Wusu, to be wide open on the perimeter and the Red Storm knocked down its shots at a 44.4-percent clip from the outside.
Addae-Wusu capped off the afternoon in Sunrise, Florida with a 3-pointer with 11.4 seconds remaining to match his career-high of 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
“We were a much better rhythm team tonight,” Anderson said.
St. John’s basketball finishes non-conference play strong
Saturday’s game presented a unique challenge for St. John’s that it faced last season.
The Red Storm were pinned against a struggling Pittsburgh team that did not have a good record or metrics in the final non-conference game of the year and the Johnnies fell inside Madison Square Garden, albeit without Julian Champagnie who was sidelined with COVID-19.
While Mike Anderson had his full roster available against Florida State, the Seminoles still provided a challenge with a seemingly improving team with a great head coach and talented players on its roster.
“We look back at times on last season, but we really didn’t mention about the Pitt game,” Soriano said.
“We just tried to be aggressive and play our style of basketball.”
St. John’s withstood the hot shooting from Darin Green Jr. and Matthew Cleveland who combined for 53 points in the loss.
The Red Storm travel to Villanova (5-5) on Wednesday night (6:30p.m ET, FS1) for another major litmus test that will give a glimpse to if this team can reach the NCAA Tournament.