By Josh Adams
Brooklyn, NY- “It feels good to be home.”
That’s what Shamorie Ponds said to the press after St. John’s held off a pesky Cal Bears team in the Legends Classic on Monday night at the Barclay’s Center. The Brooklyn native was all smiles after his 32 points paced his team to a 4-0 record and gave the crowd it’s money’s worth by showcasing all the skills that will certainly make him a future first round NBA pick. Red Storm fans can give thanks during this Feast Week that Ponds decided to return to campus and give the program a superstar that hasn’t been seen since another left handed kid from Brooklyn burst on the national scene in the 1980’s in Chris Mullin. The two were on the floor in their home borough as coach and player and gave both young and old St. John’s fans a thrill and gave the alumni and fans a much needed confidence boost in the resilience in this years team with the Red Storm coming back and winning behind Ponds second half brilliance.
The Cal Bears team looked a lot better than what preseason prognosticators had them on Monday night. Most polls had them 11th out of 12 in the Pac-12 this year. The Bears have had a tough start to the young season, losing against Yale in an overseas junket to China to start the year and having to cancel a home game due to the wildfires that are ravaging the state. The oddsmakers had St. John’s winning in a romp but the Bears flipped the script early on. They started the game 7 for 7 from the field as they jumped out to an early lead over the Red Storm. St. John’s countered Cal’s early run with a steady dose of Ponds and Mustapha Heron hitting jumpers and finding their way to the rim for buckets. The Johnnies made up the early deficit behind the play of those two stars and cruised into halftime with a run of their own to boost their lead to 38-31.
The second half started out almost exactly like the first with Cal blistering hot from the field to trim the Johnnies lead to one. The back and forth between the two teams continued until Cal behind Darius McNiell went on a run to bolster the Golden Bears lead up to 7 with just six minutes left in the contest. As St. John’s fans sweated out the ending, Ponds was as cool as an Italian ice from Spumoni Gardens as the kid from Brooklyn gave the fans a highlight reel to end the game. Ponds had 14 points in the last nine minutes in the half highlighted by a step back three to put the game away for the Red Storm as St. John’s remained undefeated with the thriller over the Golden Bears.
St. John’s plays VCU in the Legends Classic Championship game on Tuesday night. VCU defeated Temple in the late game on Monday night.
McNeill had 21 points with five three pointers in the loss for Cal. The Golden Bears are now 1-2 for the season and play in the consolation game of the Legends Classic at 5PM on Tuesday.
“I think Shamorie came back with a very open mind this season and he just wants to win. “If it’s scoring, playing a pure point guard, he’ll do that. That’s a part of his game that really hasn’t been seen yet.”
– St. John’s Coach Chris Mullin
“As far as our team goes, I’m happy with the way we regrouped and got the win. Shamorie caught fire — of course that sticks out — but we talk all the time about how numbers may change on any given night. It’s gotta be about team defense”
– Mullin on the factors that gave the Red Storm the victory tonight
“With this team we’ve got so much depth that it could be anyone on any given night.”
– Ponds on his teammates play on Monday night
Analytics Stats of the Night
Ponds offensive rating was 183.2 on Monday night. (Offensive Rating is point produced by a player per 100 possessions)
Ponds was on the floor for 87% for the game and had zero turnovers.
+4 Clark II