No. 23 Seton Hall beats St. John’s 75-70

St. John's guard Bashir Ahmed (1) has the ball knocked away by Seton Hall forward Ismael Sanogo (14) in front of Seton Hall forward Desi Rodriguez (20) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard was a little concerned going into the No. 23 Pirates’ game against St. John’s on Sunday at the Prudential Center,

”Khadeen (Carrington) has the flu,” Willard said. ”Myles (Powell) turned his ankle in practice. Angel (Delgado) has had the flu and Desi (Rodriguez) is just getting over it. They all battled through practices.”

And when Willard found out that St. John’s was going to play Sunday without scoring leader Shamorie Ponds, out with a knee injury he suffered in the loss to Providence, Willard’s concerns grew more.

”When we found out that Shamorie wasn’t going to play, it’s human nature to relax just a little,” Willard said.

But the Pirates managed to recover in time and hold off the feisty Red Storm.

The Pirates got 24 points from Carrington, and 23 points and nine rebounds from Rodriguez to hold off an undermanned Red Storm squad 75-70.

”Give them credit,” Willard said about the Red Storm. ”They really battled. They were big and athletic.”

The victory was the fourth straight and ninth in 10 games for the Pirates (13-2, 2-0 Big East).

St. John’s coach Chris Mullin was pleased with the way his team hung tough.

”I really appreciate our effort,” Mullin said. ”That effort will win a lot of games for us. We maintained our defensive intensity and worked our way back into the game. I was proud of my guys’ effort.”

Tariq Owens led the Red Storm (10-4, 0-2) with 19 points. Marvin Clark II added 18 points before fouling out, Bashir Ahmed had 16, and Justin Simon 16.

The Pirates were 10 of 18 from 3-point range in the first half and 13 of 29 overall.

The Red Storm raced to a 14-5 lead. Owens who scored nine of the Red Storm’s first 14 points, including an alley-oop slam and a long 3-pointer.

The Pirates rallied with their long range prowess, scoring 11 straight points to take a 16-14 lead with 10:40 remaining in the half on a short range jumper from Rodriguez. Powell made two 3-pointers in the run.

The Pirates outscored the Red Storm 21-9 over the final eight minutes of the half to take a 43-33 lead.

The Red Storm had an 8-0 early in the second half, with Simon scoring two baskets and Ahmed and Clark adding one each. Clark’s basket came on a left-handed alley-oop dunk that sliced the lead to 45-43 and caused Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard to call a timeout.

But the Pirates answered with a 13-0 run to take firm control of the game, with Powell, Rodriguez and Carrington all hitting from long range to push the lead to 58-43 with 14 minutes remaining.

Undaunted, St. John’s kept creeping back into the game, despite trailing by as many as 15. The Red Storm outscored the Pirates, 19-5, to cut the lead to just one. Simon made two free throws with 4:41 left to bring the Red Storm to 63-62.

But Angel Delgado scored on a rebound basket to push the lead to three and Rodriguez hit two free throws with 3:37 left to give the Pirates a 67-62 lead.

LONG-STANDING SERIES

The Pirates and Red Storm met for the 98th time in the series history, dating to 1909. The teams have played each other at least once every year since the 1963-64 season. St. John’s leads the series 59-39 but only 34-30 since the two original Big East Conference members began league play.

THE BIG PICTURE

Seton Hall: The Pirates ended a streak of four straight home games. The Pirates are a perfect 10-0 at home, either the Prudential Center or Walsh Gym on the Seton Hall campus.

St. John’s: It is not known how long Ponds will be out. He had started all 13 of the Red Storm’s previous 13 games this season. It means that St. John’s is playing without its top two leading scorers in Ponds and sophomore guard Marcus LoVett, who was averaging 14.9 points when he went down with an injury seven games ago. The Red Storm has won four of seven games without LoVett.

UP NEXT:

St. John’s: At Creighton on Wednesday night.

Seton Hall: At Butler on Saturday.