St. John’s wary of upset-minded New Hampshire

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A lopsided defeat last weekend against nationally ranked Iowa State served as a wakeup call for St. John’s for its Big East opener Wednesday night.

Next up for the Red Storm: An opponent coming off one of the biggest wakeup calls it has ever delivered against a power-conference foe.

St. John’s will return to nonconference play Saturday afternoon, when the Red Storm are slated to host New Hampshire in New York.

The Red Storm (9-1) never trailed in an 86-67 win over visiting DePaul on Wednesday night. New Hampshire recorded a landmark upset Tuesday night, when the Wildcats snapped a five-game losing streak by knocking off host Boston College in overtime, 74-71.

The win over DePaul served as a reset for St. John’s, which was still smarting from its perfect start ending Sunday with a wire-to-wire 71-60 loss to then-No. 23 Iowa State. The Red Storm set season lows for points scored as well as field-goal percentage (35.8) against the Cyclones.

The Red Storm wasted little time establishing themselves against DePaul. St. John’s raced out to a 12-0 lead and shot 50.8 percent (33 for 65) from the field, while all five starters scored in double figures. Joel Soriano (17 points, 14 rebounds) led the way with his eighth double-double of the season, the most in Division I.

“You think about the Iowa State game … I think it exposed some of the things we’ve got to get better at,” St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said. “Sometimes, when you get bumped upside the head, you learn something.”

New Hampshire (3-5), which was picked to finish seventh in the nine-team America East, absorbed plenty of lessons during November. The Wildcats, whose average margin of defeat during their skid against a quintet of mid-major foes was 11 points per game, beat a power-conference opponent for the first time since edging Boston College — then a member of the Big East — 51-49 on Dec. 1, 1986.

Clarence Daniels, who leads New Hampshire in scoring and rebounding (16.8 points, 11.8 rebounds per game), finished with 34 points and 14 rebounds on his 22nd birthday Wednesday night. Daniels forced overtime by hitting a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left for the Wildcats, who trailed by five in the extra session before scoring the final eight points.

“Just a great, great team win for our guys,” New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion said. “I’m very happy for them because this has been a tough stretch. I’m hoping this helps our confidence. It should. It should make them feel good.”

The game Saturday is just the second all-time meeting between St. John’s and New Hampshire. The host Red Storm earned a 74-61 win on Nov. 12, 2019.

–Field Level Media

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