The game starting off with PG Malik Boothe draining a three ball. That should have been a clear indicator of an excellent evening. That, and the Red Storm launching out the starting gate with a 16-0 run would set the stage for a 58 point drubbing by the St. John's over the Westmont Warriors, a NAIA squad from Santa Barbara, Calif.
The 100-42 exhibition game win at Lou Carnesecca Arena should be a nice confidence builder for head Coach Steve Lavin and his team as the regular season approaches.
Freshman, Dwayne Polee was in the starting line-up along with Boothe, Dwight Hardy, Justin Brownlee and D.J. Kennedy and all five put up points, contributing to a 21-2 run. With 12:55 remaining in the half, the Warriors finally received some offense from forward Blake Bender and Matt Hornbuckle (5 points) but the Red Storm's new look zone defense with their length, athleticism and quickened pace, stymied Westmont. Brownlee's fifteen first half points, which included two thunderous dunks, were a major contributor to the Red Storm's, 59-20 halftime lead.
The Red Storm fans enthusiastically chanted, "We want Garrett" and an obviously hyped Amir Garrett responded, pointing his finger in the air to the rhythm of their chants. Garrett was in the building along another top recruit, Norvel Pelle as they sat one row up from courtside while on their official visits to the Queens, NY campus.
As the Warriors made adjustments in the second half, the Johnnies found themselves with less transition points and more half court situations. Where St. John's beat Westbrook by 29 points in the first half, they would only beat them by 17 points in the second. Turnovers and some spacing issues gave the Warriors scoring opportunities which Marlow Brooks and Bender exploited.
To complicate matters, Boothe, who had nine points, would go down after attempting a shot with 11:04 left to play and appeared to be grabbing his ankle while grimacing in pain. Hardy would step up in his absence, sharing his expanded point guard duties with Malik Stith (4 points). Boothe would return with what would turn out to be merely a cramp.
The Red Storm began to execute in the half court as Dele Coker scored in the paint along with Sean Evans (7 points). Paris Horne was also a sparkplug providing 12 of St, John's 36 bench points as did Quincy Roberts (7 points). With 3:30 left to play, and the Johnnies comfortably ahead, Coach Lavin subbed in his two walk-ons and cruised to the win.
St, John's had five players who scored in double-digits (Brownlee - 18pts, 4 rebs and 2 blks; Hardy -15pts, shooting 3-5 from 3-pt range; Polee - 12 pts, 3 rebs; Kennedy - 10pts) and shot 61.5% and 50% from three-point range. The Johnnies also shot 57.9% from the line.
Bender led the Warriors with 13pts while Brooks added 8pts.