Ponds scores 26 and St. John’s goes to 9-0
NEW YORK (AP) — Shomorie Ponds scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half and combined with Justin Simon for nine points in a game-ending run as undefeated St. John’s fended off Princeton 89-74 on Sunday at the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival.
Princeton trailed by 19, 75-66, with eight minutes left after Ponds scored 10 points in a 26-8 run. But the Tigers responded by outscoring the Red Storm 18-5, capped by a 3-pointer by Jose Morales, and closed within six with 3:41 remaining but didn’t score again, missing their final six shots.
LJ Figueroa added 17 points and Marvin Clark II 13 with both grabbing a game-high eight rebounds for the Red Storm (9-0), who shot 56 percent in getting off to their best start since the 1990-91 team also began 9-0.
Devin Cannady made six 3-pointers and scored 18 points and Jaelin Llewellyn, in his collegiate debut, added 17 for Princeton (4-4), making its first Garden appearance since 2000 and playing St. John’s for the first time since 1982.
St. John’s led 41-38 at halftime on Figueroa’s 3-point play in the final minute.
Before the game, St. John’s honored late Hall of Fame basketball writer Jim O’Connell of The Associated Press with a special presentation to his family. The players wore a red patch with O’Connell’s nickname, “Oc.” O’Connell, an alumnus, was a fixture covering sports at the Garden. He died in July at 64. The Garden will also place a permanent plaque at his workspace in the media room.