With a lot of pressure on St John’s Red Storm going into the year, they opened the year on the right foot. After trading baskets in the opening minutes with Merrimack, Red Storm went ahead and never looked back in a 97–72 victory at Carnesca Arena.
Red Storm led by double digits For the better part of the night he shot 57% off the field and 38% from beyond the arc in a blowout win. It was transferred forward David Jones led the Johnnys on an 8-of-16 shoot from the field with 21 points, while providing 10 rebounds and four assists.
Fellow transfer Andre Kurbello made his first game appearance in St John’s uniform, scoring his 13 points in a 5 for 7 shooting, which included seven assists and a pair steals. Montez Mathis scored 16 points, shooting 3-for-4 from three-point range.
Mathis reached his 1,000th career mark late in the half, when he dropped a free throw with 6:15 in the game. Star guard Posh Alexander had 14 points in the season opener for Red Storm and Joel Soriano finished the night with 12.
Red Storm struggled to maintain their possession of the ball during the night. St. John’s swung the ball 29 times to Merrimack.
Season-opening victories begin a year where there is a lot of pressure for Mike Anderson and his team to prove they can find some postseason success. The Johnnies are coming off a year where they were knocked out of the Big East tournament in the semi-finals, struggled against conference opponents and did not reach a postseason tournament.
St John’s was selected in a presidential poll of league coaches to finish sixth in the Big East. Alexander was selected to the Precision All-Big East First Team.
By the start of the second half, St John’s already had a big lead. Jones started the half with a three and extended the lead to 24 as Mathis dropped his one. Jones gave the Red Storm a 28-point advantage while the second half left 17:03 on the clock with the other three.
The closest Merrimack got was when Jordan Dirkack hit a pair of free throws with 8:34 remaining. A pair of driving layups from Soriano and Alexander put the Red Storm 87-58 ahead with 5:02 in the game.
Monday marked the first time that St John’s and Merrimack had faced each other. The Johnnies had defeated Northeast Conference opponents in their last five meetings with them.
It was a 39-second swing early in the first half that broke the 9-9 tie and put St John’s in the driver’s seat. Red Storm went on a 6-0 run that began with a Soriano jumper and then back-to-back baskets from Sikandar.
Transfer Andre Kurbello steals an inbound pass and quickly feeds Alexander for a dunk and Alexander himself with a steal to put the Red Storm 15-9 ahead.
Carbello dropped a layup before Merrimack cut St John’s lead to three, Pinzon hit a layup of his own and Alexander scored on the fastbreak. A three from Pinzon extended the Johnnys’ lead to 10, with 12:51 left in the first half.
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St John’s continued the attack as they took a 21-point lead at 7:33 when Mathis scored three runs and forced Merrimack to call a timeout.
With more than five minutes to play in the half, some sloppy assets saw Merrimack cut the Red Storm’s lead to 13 when they went 6-0 on their own. However, Soriano responded with a pair of lay-ups and Alexander took the lead at 19 with 3:57 on the clock.