QUEENS, N.Y. - Three players finished in double figures and St. John's shot 51.6 percent in the second half to pull away and defeat NCAA Division II squad Sonoma State, 73-55, in exhibition action in front of 3,324 fans at Carnesecca Arena.
Amir Garrett and Phil Greene each scored a team-high 17 points, while JaKarr Sampson added 14 points and seven rebounds to lead the Red Storm.
Christian Jones added eight points and seven boards and Chris Obekpa chipped in with four points, seven rebounds and a game-high seven blocked shots. St. John's shot 32-of-69 (46.4 percent) for the game and turned 27 Sonoma State turnovers into 27 points.
Patrick Scott swished five 3-pointers en route to scoring a game-high 22 points to lead Sonoma State, which was held to 34.5 percent (19-of-55) from the floor after a stingy STJ defense limited the Seawolves to just 27.6 percent (8-of-29) shooting in the second half.
"We have to give a lot of credit to Coach Fuscaldo and his team for playing with a lot of poise," said head coach Steve Lavin. "At halftime we addressed our biggest concerns: rebounding and defending the perimeter by getting to shooters, pressuring without fouling, and driving shooters off the 3-point line and turning them into drivers. We were minus 10 on the boards in the first half and plus nine in the second half. They shot 50 percent from the 3-point line in the first half and just 20 percent in the second half so we were able to clean up our two biggest concerns."
Leading by four at the break, St. John's built up an 11-point advantage, 48-37, following a Garrett 3-pointer at the 14:51 mark. After Sonoma State reeled off a quick 5-0 run to close to within six points with 13:40 to play, a Garrett dunk brought the lead back to nine.
The Seawolves answered again, however, as a layup-and-one whittled the Red Storm advantage back down to six with 10:58 remaining. A fast break alley-oop dunk from Greene to Jones served as an exclamation point as St. John's used a 17-5 run to open up a 20-point lead, 70-50, its largest of the game.
St. John's jumped out of the gates quickly in the first half as Greene knocked down a 3 to open the game before a Sampson jumper made it 11-0 at the 16:27 mark.
The Seawolves began chipping away as 3s from Will Olsem and Scott brought Sonoma State to within 13-10. The Seawolves trailed by just one, 15-14, before a Greene fastbreak dunk capped a quick 6-0 spurt to open up a 21-14 Red Storm lead.
A D'Angelo Harrison 3-pointer helped extend the St. John's lead back to 11 points, 32-21, but Sonoma State closed the half on a 12-5 run and the Red Storm led by just four, 37-33, at the break.
St. John's concludes exhibition play with a 7:30 p.m. tip against Concordia (Ill.) at Carnesecca Arena on Nov. 6. The game will have a Coaches vs. Cancer theme, featuring cancer awareness programs and initiatives, and fans are encouraged to "Dress like Coach Lavin" by wearing sport coats and sneakers. Both coaching staffs will don that look for the game.