After strong opener, St. John’s takes on Lafayette

St. John’s looks to follow up its dominant season-opening win when it hosts Lafayette on Saturday in Queens, N.Y.

The Red Storm (1-0) rolled to a 97-72 win over Merrimack on Monday when its two top newcomers produced strong debuts, and even a spate of turnovers could not ruin things.

David Jones totaled 21 points and 10 rebounds while hitting five 3-pointers after spending the previous two seasons with DePaul. Illinois transfer Andre Curbelo meshed in the backcourt with Posh Alexander by producing 13 points and seven assists as the duo combined for 27 points, 12 assists and eight steals.

“I feel like we did a fantastic job,” Alexander said. “The whole team came out in a zone, we played well. We’re just going to try to bring that to the next game.”

The strong debut for the transfers occurred when St. John’s shot 56.9 percent, made 13 of 15 free throws and held a 47-26 rebounding margin — all of which offset 29 turnovers. The turnovers did not cost them against the Northeast Conference preseason favorite as the St. John’s defense allowed 37.9 percent shooting from the field and 20.7 percent from 3-point range.

“That will be addressed,” Red Storm coach Mike Anderson said of the turnovers. “That’s something I don’t condone.”

Lafayette, after 27 seasons with Fran O’Hanlon at the helm, began the first season under coach Mike Jordan on Monday by shooting 36.5 percent in a 67-54 loss at Miami.

C.J. Fulton scored 17 points as the Leopards (0-1) held a two-point lead at halftime before giving up a 10-0 run to start the second half. Lafayette scratched back against the ACC team to pull even midway through the second but then gave up nine straight points and couldn’t recover.

“We are going to compete. We’re going to play as hard as we possibly can because I won’t settle for less than that,” Jordan said.

The schools are meeting for the first time since Nov. 15, 1997.

–Field Level Media