St. John’s shocks Duke, ends 11-game losing streak
by Bryan Fonseca
Feb 06, 2018 | 647 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Between the 1998 and 2012, St. John’s and Duke met once a year.

The Red Storm actually won three of those contests (2000, 2003 and 2011) and pushed the Blue Devils in a few others.

Although the one-sided “rivalry” favors Duke, the game is always circled on the calendars of the Red Storm faithful, which is what made Saturday's edition at Madison Square Garden the most liberating of them all.

Heading into Saturday, the Red Storm (11-13, 0-11 Big East) had lost 11 straight, which spans its entire Big East schedule since opening conference play on December 28.

Entering conference play, the Red Storm looked as good as, if not better, than advertised, and some expected them to be an NCAA Tournament team.

This past weekend, the Red Storm didn't just win its first Big East game of a disappointing 2017-18 season, but they shocked the fourth-ranked team in the country, their last game in the World’s Most Famous Arena until next month’s conference tournament.

The release of joy and the feeling of satisfaction could be felt throughout MSG, as Red Storm rising star Shamorie Ponds popped a contested three in the face of Gary Trent, Jr. with two seconds to spare on the shot clock, and 40 left in the game, to give St. John’s a 77-73 lead.

It was three of Ponds’ 33 points, and the biggest three-pointer in the career of the sophomore from Brooklyn.

"It was probably the biggest play of the game, no question,” said head coach Chris Mullin after his team pulled off the 81-77 stunner. “It's one of the plays that we run from baseline out of bounds. Much like breaking the press, we want the ball in his hands.

“Sometimes he doesn't get it if they double him, but I thought we ran that to perfection,” he added. “We set some good screens, Shamorie worked his way for the shot, and it was the biggest shot of the day, no question."

The depleted Queens squad, who have been without second-leading scorer Marcus LoVett since November, have been competitive in several of their Big East losses, faltering down the wire in a handful of games, losing eight by single digits.

With seven conference games left until the tournament begins on March 7, Ponds says the team can't be caught up in defeating Duke.

"We are happy but we can't stop here, we have to keep pushing,” he said. “We just stuck with our game plan and went into every game knowing we could win. The mindset was the same, we just tried to go out there and break the ice and today we did.”

Legendary Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski offered a hat-tip to Mullin and St. John’s after the humbling loss.

“I know it's been frustrating for them, but they came out and they were the better team today,” said Coach K. “Ponds was terrific, but they play with an enthusiasm and a togetherness. It was tough for us to defend them.

“I thought they made us look bad, but we made ourselves look bad,” he added. “We did not play basketball the first 32 minutes worthy of our program. We were like five individuals out there, and it was disgusting really, and no matter what we said nothing worked with our team.”

Krzyzewski also gave St. John's credit for being competitive this season, despite the negative optics of the record.

“We came in prepared,” he said. “You don't look at records, you look at who you're playing, and we looked at them and said, `hey they're good,' We had to defend them that way and we didn't."
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