Jan. 29, 2017
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NEW YORK - Despite a furious second half push that saw the Johnnies trim a 15-point deficit to just two down the stretch, the Red Storm proved unable to close the gap as No. 24/22 Xavier (15-6, 5-3) came away with an 82-77 victory at Madison Square Garden on Sunday evening.
Shamorie Ponds led the way for St. John's (10-13, 4-6), as the freshman from Brooklyn tallied a game-high 23 points. The effort marked the ninth time this season that the 6-foot-1 guard has eclipsed the 20-point plateau.
Two other Johnnies finished in double figures, as Marcus LoVett tallied 11 points and five assists, while Bashir Ahmed also added 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and a 3-of-6 effort from beyond the arc.
Darien Williams chipped in nine points on 4-of-4 shooting from the floor, while Malik Ellison registered seven points and a team-high six assists.
The Red Storm struggled on the boards as Xavier pulled down 45 rebounds to the Johnnies' 26. The Musketeers especially excelled on the offensive glass, collecting 17 offensive rebounds.
Trailing by 15, 59-44, just inside the midway mark of the second half, the Red Storm rattled off a 7-0 run to pull within eight, 59-51, on a pair of Tariq Owens free throws just over a minute later.
Xavier would extend its lead back to as many as 12, 68-56, with six minutes to go, but Johnnies dug deep and responded with a 10-0 run, cutting the Musketeer lead to just a pair, 68-66, with 4:16 to play. Williams anchored the run for the Johnnies, scoring five of the team's 10-points during the stretch.
After Quentin Goodin and Ponds traded free throws to make it 70-68 in favor of the Musketeers, Xavier rattled off eight of the game's next 10 points to build its lead back to eight, 78-70, with two minutes to play.
The Johnnies would make it a one possession game once again down the stretch, as a Ponds layup cut the lead to three, 80-77, with 17 ticks left on the clock, but the comeback effort fell just short as the Musketeers escaped The Garden with an 82-77 victory.
The Red Storm will be back in action at "The World's Most Famous Arena" on Wednesday night, playing host to the Golden Eagles of Marquette at 7 p.m.