EditorsNote: updates fourth graf with Tuesday matchups
Junior Shamorie Ponds scored a season-high 32 points to help St. John’s rally for an 82-79 win over California in the semifinal of the Legends Classic at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn.
Ponds, the preseason Big East Player of the Year, knocked down a 3-point jumper with 1:06 remaining to give the Red Storm a 78-74 lead. He made two free throws with 19 seconds left to secure the win.
He was 11-for-15 from the field, including 3-for-7 on 3-pointers, and had five assists. Ponds, a 6-foot-1 guard, has scored in double figures in 60 of his 67 career games at St. John’s.
The Legends Classic concludes Tuesday. St. John’s will play Virginia Commonwealth, while Cal will play Temple. St. John’s will be trying to win an early-season tournament for the first time since 2010-11, when it claimed the Great Alaska Shootout.
The victory gives St. John’s its second straight 4-0 start for the season. The Red Storm also got 13 points from Mustapha Heron, 12 points from LJ Figueroa and 10 points and eight rebounds from Marvin Clark II.
California was led by sophomores Darius McNeill, who had 21 points, and Justice Sueing, who added 19 points and nine rebounds. Paris Austin scored 17 for the Bears (1-2).
McNeill tied the game at 48-48 with a layup with 12:10 remaining and took the lead when McNeill made a 3-pointer to give the Bears a 53-52 edge.
The Golden Bears retained the lead until Justin Simon rebounded a missed 3-pointer and scored on the offensive rebound to give St. John’s a 69-68 lead with 3:52 remaining.
Cal got off to a quick start in front of the partisan New York fans and took a 13-6 lead with 15:29 left in the first half. But the ball movement by St. John’s improved — the Red Storm had 12 assists on 17 made field goals — and led by as many as seven when Dixon scored on a layup with 3:01 left to make it 32-25.
Ponds scored 16 in the first half to help the Red Storm run off to a 38-31 halftime lead. McNeill was 4-for-6 on 3-pointers and scored 14 for the Bears.
—Field Level Media