Johnnies Re-Open Carnesecca with a Victory

NEW YORK (AP) - On a night where senior forward Anthony Mason Jr. couldn't get into a rhythm, D.J. Kennedy and his sophomore classmates put their "elder statesman" on their shoulders.
Kennedy had a career-high 23 points and fellow sophomore Sean Evans had his first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, as St. John's (1-0) opened the season with a 73-63 victory over LIU on Friday night at the grand re-opening of Carnesecca Arena.
Kennedy, who scored 18 points twice as a freshman including once in his first meeting with LIU last Nov. 28, was 8-of-14 from the field, including a 2-of-6 mark from 3-point range. That was the best effort from behind the arc for the Red Storm, who finished 4-of-23 (17 percent).
"We got the leads because of our defense. We made steals, got outlet stops and rebounds. Where we got into trouble was with our fouls. That's what we have to get much better at. We have to stop making silly fouls, grabbing fouls, holding fouls. We have to get better at moving our feet and not fouling people 30 feet from the basket, because then it breaks up the rhythm of the game," said head coach Norm Roberts following the game.
Sophomore forward Justin Burrell contributed 14 points and diminutive second-year floor general Malik Boothe turned in six points, six rebounds and five assists with only three turnovers, but it was the play of Kennedy and Evans that proved to be the difference.
"D.J. is absolutely one of the hardest working players I have ever been around. He works tirelessly," said Roberts. "He stays after every practice for at least 50 minutes and takes at least 400 shots everyday. He wants to make himself the best basketball player he can possibly be. He deserves it. The way he played tonight is because he has prepared himself to do it. I'm happy for him."
Mason Jr., who had missed practice this week while nursing a tendon pull in his right foot, finished with six points on 2-of-11 shooting, but added seven boards. Kyle Johnson had 23 points for the Blackbirds (0-1), who committed 18 turnovers that led to 19 points for St. John's.
Johnson's third 3 of the game brought LIU within eight with 5:13 to play, but Kennedy hit his last 3 of the game with 3:50 left to give the Red Storm a 66-54 lead.
Evans, who averaged 3.1 points and 2.5 rebounds as a freshman, had six rebounds in the first half as the smaller Blackbirds outrebounded St. John's 23-18. The Red Storm turned that around in the second half to finish with a 44-40 advantage.
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