St. John's's D'Angelo Harrison (11) drives past Fairleigh Dickinson's Matt MacDonald (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II
December 11, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) St. John's marked its return to the Top 25 with an efficient performance that showed exactly why the Red Storm are ranked for the first time in nearly four years.

D'Angelo Harrison scored 26 points, Phil Greene IV had 16 and No. 24 St. John's beat Fairleigh Dickinson 74-52 on Wednesday night.

''None of us on the team have been ranked before. It is exciting, but we had to win this game,'' said Harrison, a senior guard. ''It was a big game for us.''

Sir'Dominic Pointer added 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting and Chris Obekpa had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Red Storm (7-1) in their first game as a ranked team since 2011. St. John's returned to the Top 25 this week after a 12-point victory at Syracuse last Saturday.

''We are glad to get the `W.' Coming off of the Syracuse victory in the Carrier Dome, we were uncertain how the team was going to respond. There were clearly some aspects of play we need to improve upon even though we won by 22,'' St. John's coach Steve Lavin said.

''Naturally as a coach I'm never satisfied. If we intend to make a postseason run, we have to keep elevating every facet of play. There were stretches where I thought we played well but there were other pockets of play where I thought we were out of sync or disjointed.''

Obekpa also had six of the Red Storm's 11 blocked six shots. Harrison grabbed six rebounds and made all eight of his free throws.

Afterward, he credited Greene.

''This is what Phil is capable of. He is just starting to come out,'' Harrison said. ''He is in a good place shooting the ball and we are going to get him as many shots as we can. I feed off Phil because if he is being doubled then I am open.''

Playing on campus at Carnesecca Arena, St. John's opened a 39-25 halftime lead and outrebounded FDU 35-24.

''If a program is ranked, it's natural for a coach, player, fan, donor, and the student body to have some pep in the step or a sense of pride,'' Lavin said. ''I'm pleased that no sign of complacency is evident as we have yet to accomplish anything of significance. For four years we have moved in the right direction as a team and we are continuing to climb the mountain.''

Mustafaa Jones had 18 points for the Knights (3-5). Xavier Harris added 13 points and eight rebounds.

''I'm really proud of our basketball team. We just played five or six games on the road and we battled,'' Fairleigh Dickinson coach Greg Herenda said. ''St. John's was very good tonight. Give them credit, but my guys fought. We just came back from Notre Dame and came into a hostile environment. We were down 10 with 7 minutes to go and lost Xavier Harris, a key player, to foul trouble and couldn't step up from there.''

St. John's shot 56.9 percent from the field and held Fairleigh Dickinson to 37.3 percent, including 4 of 14 from 3-point range.

Harrison was 8 of 14 from the field and Greene shot 7 for 15, making a pair of 3-pointers.

''Phil is seeing a big basket right now,'' Lavin said. ''He's in that zone to where every shot he releases feels good. His judgments on the floor have been near perfect. He is a steady influence and an outstanding leader.''

The Knights went 10 for 21 (47.6 percent) from the free throw line.



Fairleigh Dickinson: Home against Delaware on Dec. 20.

St. John's: Home against Fordham at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

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