Jan. 3, 2018
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OMAHA, Neb. - Playing inside one the nation's most hostile road environments, the St. John's men's basketball team saw Creighton use a late 18-2 run to overcome a double-digit deficit and remain undefeated at home on the season, 78-71.
Bashir Ahmed led five Johnnies in double figures with a season-high 21 points, just two off his career high. The senior from the Bronx made eight of his 14 tries from the field, including a 4-of-8 effort from three-point range, to go along with five rebounds and three steals for the Red Storm (10-5, 0-3 BIG EAST).
Justin Simon stuffed the stat sheet once again, tallying 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. The Arizona transfer also registered a game-high six assists, five boards and three steals.
Making his return to the court after missing the Red Storm's last outing with an injury, Shamorie Ponds finished with 12 points, five assists and a season-high five steals.
Tariq Owens reached double figures for the second-straight game and the fourth time in his last six outings, recording 14 points, five rebounds and a pair of blocks.
The fifth member of the Red Storm to finish in double figures, Marvin Clark II added 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including a 2-for-4 effort from distance.
As a team, the Red Storm turned 17 Creighton (12-3, 2-1 BIG EAST) turnovers into 24 points while surrendering just seven turnovers of its own, just one off the squad's season low.
After going 8-of-17 from deep in the first half, the Johnnies converted on just one of their 12 three-point attempts in the latter stanza.
Marcus Foster scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting for the Bluejays, including a 5-of-8 performance from three-point range.
The start of the game featured three-point shooting barrages from both sides, as Ahmed's third triple of the game gave St. John's a 13-12 lead with just over five minutes gone in the contest. Creighton, however, proved even more efficient from deep in the early going, making five of its first seven tries from beyond the arc, including a 3-for-3 effort from Foster.
Following 10 lead changes in the first 10 minutes of play, Creighton unleashed a 10-2 run to equal its biggest lead of the game, 28-21, with eight minutes to remaining until the break.
With the Johnnies trailing by that same seven-point margin, 36-29, following a Foster dunk with 4:27 to go, the Red Storm locked down defensively and found its rhythm on the offensive end, uncorking a 14-0 run to end the half. Following two free throws from Simon, Ponds swiped a steal at midcourt and put in the bucket for his first points of the game. The sophomore then assisted on an Owens 3-pointer and an Ahmed backdoor layup, giving the Johnnies their first lead in nearly 10 minutes of game action. Following an Owens bunny to make it 11 unanswered for the Red Storm, Ponds punctuated the run with a three-ball from an adjacent area code, giving the Johnnies the 43-36 lead with which they would end the half.
After Creighton ended the run with a triple to open the second half, St. John's quickly built its lead to double digits, 54-44, on a tremendous steal-and-score slam from Simon with just over four minutes gone in the period.
Trailing by that same 10-point margin less than a minute later, the Bluejays answered with a 13-0 run, moving ahead by three, 59-56, on a Martin Krampelj and-one with just under nine minutes to go. Creighton would extend its run as high as 18-2 before a Ponds layup snapped a 1-for-11 stretch from the field for St. John's.
Down by six, 66-60, with 6:36 to go, the Red Storm rattled off the game's next five points, trimming the deficit to just a single point following an Ahmed jumper with 5:13 to play. The Bluejays, however, answered with four in a row of their own, bumping the advantage back to five, 70-65, following two-straight layups from Foster.
The Johnnies were not done yet, as back-to-back buckets from Ponds and Ahmed pulled the Creighton advantage back down to one, 70-69, but Ronnie Harrell Jr. subsequently nailed a three-ball to make it a two-possession game once again.
After a steal-and-score from Simon shaved the deficit down to two, 73-71, the Johnnies sent Clark to the line for a chance to tie. A 93.5 percent free throw shooter on the season entering the contest, the redshirt junior missed the front end of his one-and-one. From there, Creighton scored the game's last five points to escape with a 78-71 victory.
The Red Storm returns home on Saturday, playing host to the Blue Demons of DePaul at 2 p.m. inside Carnesecca Arena.