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St. John’s keeps record unblemished by beating Temple

Montez Mathis had a team-high 16 points and Andre Curbelo made key plays at the end of the game as St. John’s remained undefeated by beating Temple 78-72 in the first round of the Empire Classic on Monday night in New York.

Joel Soriano posted 15 points and 12 rebounds for St. John’s (5-0). David Jones had 14 points and seven rebounds, while Curbelo added 13 points with four assists.

St. John’s, which trailed by 13 early in the game, advanced to play Syracuse in Tuesday’s final.

Jamille Reynolds hit 8 for 10 shots from the floor, scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half and added a team-high eight boards for Temple (2-3), which will face Richmond in the tournament’s consolation game. Khalif Battle scored 17 points and Damian Dunn and Zach Hicks chipped in 11 apiece.

St. John’s led 66-58 with 4:47 to go before Hicks guided the Owls back. He hit two 3-pointers, including a corner 3 that put Temple ahead 72-70 with 1:32 left.

Curbelo responded by drawing a foul on a driving layup, the ensuing foul shot putting the Red Storm ahead. St. John’s got a defensive stop, Curbelo added one more layup and Temple couldn’t make another shot from there.

The Red Storm’s swarming defense forced Temple into 21 turnovers.

St. John’s missed 19 of its first 23 shots while Temple built a 25-12 lead following 3-pointers by Dunn and Reynold 3. Mathis had a layup and a fast-break dunk on consecutive possessions for the Red Storm to get back within single digits.

Those baskets were the start of a 16-3 run for St. John’s as it finally got shots to fall. AJ Storr’s layup with 2:04 left tied the game at 28-28, and Soriano used a dunk and a layup to give the Red Storm their only lead of the half, a 32-30 advantage at the break.

Reynolds had a personal 8-0 run early in the second half, featuring two three-point plays, to put Temple up by five with 17:23 left in regulation.

The Red Storm pulled off an 11-for-13 shooting stretch in response to regain a thin lead.

–Field Level Media

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