Nov. 24, 2015
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LAHAINA, Hawaii - St. John's trimmed a 17-point first-half deficit to four points in the second half, but No. 13/14 Indiana held on to defeat the Red Storm, 83-73, on Tuesday at Lahaina Civic Center in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. The Hoosiers shot 57.7 percent (30-of-52) from the floor as St. John's (3-2) came up short against its second Top-25 opponent in as many days.
Federico Mussini (Reggio Emilia, Italy) and Ron Mvouika (Paris, France) scored 17 points apiece to pace St. John's. Mussini finished 6-of-13 from the floor and added a game-high four steals, while Mvouika made 7-of-8 free throws to go with five rebounds and three assists.
The Red Storm battled back by shooting 53.8 percent (14-of-26) in the second half. Felix Balamou (Conakry, Guinea) keyed the rally with 10 of his career-high 14 points coming in the final 20 minutes.
"It was a gutty performance," said St. John's head coach Chris Mullin. "For the most part we rebounded and competed. I thought [today] was a good bounce back game. Our defense was much better and I told our guys if we play like that we're going to get rewarded [in the long run]."
Yogi Ferrell scored a game-high 22 points to lead Indiana (4-1). Thomas Bryant finished with 19 points and James Blackmon, Jr. added 12. The Hoosiers got out to an early lead by shooting 64.0 percent (16-of-25) in the first half.
A Collin Hartman 3-pointer gave Indiana its 17-point advantage with 3:59 left in the first half. The Hoosiers still led by 16 at the 1:12 mark before Christian Jones (Arlington, Texas) made a jumper and Durand Johnson (Baltimore, Md.) sank a 3-pointer as the Red Storm scored the last five points before the break to trim its deficit to 42-31.
St. John's then scored the first five points of the second half as the Red Storm continued to chip away. After Robert Johnson answered with a 3 for Indiana, Mussini responded with his own triple and Mvouika added a pair of free throws to cut the margin to 45-41 with 16:05 in regulation.
Indiana went back up by double-figures and Ferrell hit three free-throws to give the Hoosiers a 13-point advantage at the 11:21 mark. The Red Storm would not go away and answered with an Amar Alibegovic (Rome, Italy) 3-pointer before a Balamou steal led to a Mussini fastbreak layup. Mussini's pull up fastbreak 3-pointer brought St. John's within 63-56 with 8:43 to play.
St. John's made it a six-point game with less than two minutes to play on a pair of free-throws from Yankuba Sima (Girona, Spain), but could not get closer. Blackmon's triple on the ensuing possession put the game out of reach.
"I keep telling our guys experience is going to make us better," said Mullin. "It's not going to happen right away."
St. John's returns to action on Wednesday for its third and final game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. The Red Storm tips off at 2:30 p.m. eastern against host-Chaminade on ESPNU and 970 AM.