D'Angelo Harrison scored 21 points and JaKarr Sampson added eight points and 10 rebounds as St. John's defeated College of Charleston, 64-53, in the ESPN Charleston Classic presented by Foster Grant on Thursday night.
The Red Storm (2-0) opened up an 11-point lead midway through the first half and were not pushed by the Cougars (1-1), who are hosting the eight-team event.
Harrison had a 3-pointer and seven quick points to put St. John's ahead 22-11 with less than six minutes gone. College of Charleston never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Nori Johnson led the Cougars with 11 points while Trent Wiedeman had 10.
The two programs had never played before, though they share some significant connections. College of Charleston's basketball architect coach John Kresse, played at St. John's for Red Storm great Joe Lapchick and was an assistant for Lou Carnesecca.
Kresse came down South, "Noo Yawk" accent intact, and turned the Cougars into giant killers – most notably defeating Maryland in the 1997 NCAA Tournament before nearly toppling eventual champ Arizona in a 73-69 loss.
Kresse spoke with the Red Storm players at coach Steve Lavin's invitation, sharing stories of the program that Lavin's trying to rebuild.
The TD Arena court is named after Kresse, who watched from the stands and was congratulated by people on both sides.
Also in the stands was former Cougars' coach Bobby Cremins, who grew up in New York City before finding success on and off the court down South.
St. John's is in the midst of a four-game opening week, following up Tuesday's season-opening victory over Detroit with three games in Charleston.
The Red Storm didn't look like they had tired legs, though, running right from the opening tip.
Christian Jones and Garrett had six points each and Harrison had five as St. John's opened up a 22-11 lead with nine minutes left in the half. The lead grew to 32-18 in the opening half, before the Cougars trimmed it to 10 points at the break.
The Red Storm kept the pressure up in the second half and Charleston struggled to stay in the game.
Greene and Harrison had layups to put St. John's ahead 46-28 with 14:42 left.
CofC will meet Auburn tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena and the game will be carried on WatchESPN.com/ESPN3.
· For the second-straight game, the Cougars used the starting lineup of sophomore Anthony Stitt, senior Andrew Lawrence, junior Anthony Thomas, sophomore Adjehi Baru and junior Trent Wiedeman.
· St. John's takes a 1-0 lead in the all-time series in the first-ever meeting between the alma mater of legendary CofC head coach John Kresse and the school he spent 23 years with.
· The Cougars donned all-black uniforms for the first time in program history (0-1).
· Junior Nori Johnson came off the bench and registered a team-high 11 points which marked the third time of his career to lead the team in scoring.
· Trent Wiedeman turned in his second-straight game in double figures with 10 points.
· Anthony Thomas led the Cougars in the rebounding column with a career-high 11 boards.
· CofC won the battle of the boards with the Red Storm, 38-35, and has now outrebounded back-to-back opponents in Towson (+2) and St. John's (+3).
· Freshman Theo Johnson continues to impress tying a career-high with two blocked shots against the Red Storm. He has totaled four in the last two games of his young career.
College of Charleston Head Coach Doug Wojcik
On the game …
"Give St. John's a lot credit. We talked a lot to our team about their speed and transition defense. We were surprised with it. They made about four of five shots at the end of shot clocks. I can't fault my guys for their effort there. I think the kids are really disappointed, and yet, there are some positives from the game. We didn't shoot that well to make a run at them and make them think about what they were doing. Their length and size is pretty impressive. We outrebounded them, but turned it over a little too much and didn't make enough shots – and that's a bad combination."
College of Charleston Junior Forward Trent Wiedeman
On not being able to sustain a run tonight …
"It was definitely frustrating. But, you have to give a lot of credit to St. John's. They are a great team and are really athletic. I think their length and athleticism bothered us a little bit. We missed shots we normally wouldn't have tonight. I think, at times, we were a little tentative because (Chris) Obekpa had eight blocks in the last game (against Detroit)."
College of Charleston Junior Forward/Guard Nori Johnson
On the loss to St. John's …
"They came out in a 1-2-2 zone. We knew they would play it. They didn't play any man. There were plenty of opportunities to get the open shot. We just couldn't get it going. We got it going early in the first couple of shots, but there was a stretch we couldn't hit shots. We just need to come out more prepared tomorrow. I thought we had a great mentality coming in. We knew they were an aggressive team and played BIG EAST basketball. We had to match that with the same toughness. I didn't think we got bogged down by them."
St. John's Head Coach Steve Lavin
On the game …
"I'm really proud of our kids. We talked about the importance of being able to win on the road in college basketball. Tonight was a great opportunity to get a sense or gauge for where we are in terms of maturity and elements of being successful in enemy territory – like a venue like this can be. I'm proud of how they played a cohesive brand of basketball. I thought our energy and defense on the floor ignited our offense. We were also aggressive, and yet, we showed intelligence by not fouling. I thought they showed, not only their athleticism and quickness, but a smart brand of basketball. We will have to recalibrate and get ready for another tough opponent tomorrow night."
St. John's Sophomore Guard D'Angelo Harrison
On the game …
"We have more experience on the road with our backcourt now. We missed a couple of easy shots that we should have had tonight. We have really good chemistry which we carried on from this summer. It was like a regular road win for us. It was good that we played the host team, but we have to have everyone playing well at all times."