St. John's get lone win in Maui, 100-93 over Chaminade
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) Boy, did St. John's need a win.
The Red Storm had lost two games to ranked teams in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational and were facing a long trip home without getting a win in Hawaii.
That was taken care of Wednesday when freshman Federico Mussini scored a season-high 24 points and junior forward Christian Jones had career highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds to help St. John's beat Chaminade 100-93 in the seventh-place game.
''It's very important (to go home with a win),'' Mussini said. ''We had two losses against two really big teams, but we improved every day since we got here, so that's the important thing. We need to improve every day like we are doing and we're going to do good, I think.''
The Red Storm (4-2) had struggled with their shooting all season but not against the Division II host school. Entering the game shooting 39 percent from the field and 34 percent on 3s, the Red Storm blew those numbers away: 59.3 percent from the field (35 of 59) and 52.6 percent on 3s (10 of 19).
''I know that I have to shoot when I'm open, and I have confidence in my shooting,'' Mussini said. ''And everybody on the team knows when they are open, they are to shoot. So just a lot of confidence. Sometimes the shot doesn't go in, but we have to keep shooting and just believe in ourselves and keep going like that.''
Durand Johnson had 18 points for St. John's, which lost to No. 19 Vanderbilt and No. 13 Indiana in the tournament, while Amar Alibegovic had 17, Ron Mvouika 12 and Yankuba Sima 10. Six players accounted for all but two of the 100 points.
''I would love to play that way. With six guys, probably not,'' first-year coach Chris Mullin said. ''But I'm all into sharing the ball and body moving and ball moving and playing free. Motion, I think that's the beautiful way to play. Until we get more bodies, we've got to be somewhat diligent on how we do things. But long-term, yeah, I think that's the way to play basketball.''
Kiran Shastri had 19 points for the Silverswords (0-5). Kevin Hu added 17 and Sam Daly and James Harper had 15 each.
St. John's had a first half most teams can only dream about. The Red Storm led 59-42 after shooting 71.0 percent from the field (22 of 31) and 75 percent from 3-point range (9 of 12).
They cooled off in the second half but Chaminade never got closer than five points and that was in final seconds of an up-and-down 20 minutes that featured little defense.
''It's encouraging, but that's something I already knew throughout practice and throughout exhibition games and scrimmages and all that kind of stuff,'' Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. ''I know we're capable of making runs, but are we capable of keeping the other team from scoring 100 points on us? What did they have at halftime? 59? That's what my question marks are. I know we'll always be good offensively, but my biggest question is how good are we going to be defensively?''
St. John's: The win was No. 1,799 for St. John's. It will be the eighth Division I program to reach 1,800. ... Mussini has been the leading or co-leading scorer in all St. John's games this season. ... The Red Storm found out Wednesday that freshman forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared to play by the NCAA. He will be available for the Fordham game next Wednesday. ''Great news,'' Mullin said. ''He's a beautiful kid, and I'm happy for him. It's something that he's very grateful for everything that he gets. He works hard. He's a great teammate and very excited about that.''
Chaminade: This was the Silverswords' first game against a Big East opponent since they faced Georgetown in 2011, an 88-61 loss. ... Of Chaminade's seven wins in the tournament three have come in the seventh-place game: Stanford in 1992, Princeton in 2007, and Oklahoma in 2010. The Silverswords record in the tournament is 7-87.
St. John's: at Fordham on Dec. 2.
Chaminade: hosts Cal State San Marcos on Saturday.