Shamorie Ponds scored a game-high 28 points, including four on free throws in the final 23 seconds, as St. John’s held on for a 77-73 victory over Saint Joseph’s in the first game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase on Wednesday in Uncasville, Conn.
The game remained close throughout, but St. John’s (10-2) took the lead for good with a five-point run to take a late 73-68 lead. Ponds got the final two points of that when he banked in a jumper with just over two minutes remaining.
Saint Joseph’s (5-6) cut the lead to 73-71 before Ponds sealed it for the Red Storm. He made two free throws with 23 seconds left and two more with nine seconds remaining, giving St. John’s a 77-71 advantage.
Bashir Ahmed added 16 points and sophomore guard Justin Simon nearly pulled off a triple-double for the Red Storm. Simon finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Shavar Newkirk scored 26 points while James Demery and Taylor Funk each scored 15 points to lead the Hawks.
Saint Joseph’s hurt itself with too many offensive mistakes. The Hawks turned the ball over 19 times, which negated a 48-36 edge they held in rebounds.
Ponds helped the Red Storm in a close first half that ended with St. John’s taking a 44-41 lead into the break.
He scored 16 of his points in the first 20 minutes and made three free throws in the final 42 seconds to help St. John’s stretch its lead a bit before halftime. The Hawks tried to take charge early in the second half by starting on a 14-4 run but the Red Storm bounced back.