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Red Storm breezes past St. Francis at Barclays

St. John's point guard D'Angelo Harrison dribbles the ball past St. Francis defender Akeem Johnson during the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival at the Barclay Center. Photo by Robert Cole
TimesLedger Newspapers

Much like his St. John’s team, D’Angelo Harrison has been a second-half performer the majority of the season. The sophomore bucked that trend at the Barclays Center Saturday.

Harrison scored 15 of his game-high 25 points in the first half to help pace the Red Storm to a comfortable 77-60 win over St. Francis College at the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival. He shot 9-of-17 from the field, including 4 for 8 from behind the arc. Harrison credited his teammates for his big night.

“It’s just good when you’re open (and) a guy hits you,” Harrison said. “That’s what we do. We knock down open shots. It was easy today.”

The ball movement was something St. John’s Coach Steve Lavin stressed as a key to the contest. The Terriers (2-7), who play in the Northeast Conference, led 19-18 midway through the first half, but St. John’s (8-3) methodically built a 45-35 halftime lead. St. Francis only got as close as 11 after the break. The Red Storm had 19 assists and committed just eight turnovers.

“It was a strong indication to make that extra pass to find that open man,” Lavin said. “We were able to pull away because of our ball movement on offense and defensively our pressure.”

JaKarr Sampson scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for St. John’s and Sir’Dominic Pointer had 12 points and seven boards. Forward Chris Obekpa chipped in seven points, five assists and nine blocks. Jalen Cannon paced St. Francis with 14 points and 12 rebounds and Akeem Johnson had 13 points and 11 boards.

“He’s a difficult matchup because he’s not just a shooter,” St. Francis Coach Glenn Braica said of Harrison.

The game was the first start of the season for Obekpa, who has blocked 20 shots in his last two games. While Obekpa has said in the past he likes coming off the bench, Lavin said he had earned the chance and it felt right after his strong performance against Fordham Dec. 8.

“It felt like the right time,” Lavin said.

Braica, a former St. John’s assistant, said Obekpa had a hand in his team having to settle for outside shots against the St. John’s zone. The Terriers made seven of the 24 three-pointers they hoisted up.

“He’s takes a layup out of the inside,” Braica said. “Their athleticism kind of flustered us into taking shots from deep.”

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