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WATCH: St. John’s dominates first half, upends Mississippi Valley State

Nov 9, 2021; Queens, New York, USA;  St. John's Red Storm guard Rafael Pinzon (24) and Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils forward John Aguer (14) battle for a rebound in the first half at Carnesecca Arena. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 9, 2021; Queens, New York, USA; St. John’s Red Storm guard Rafael Pinzon (24) and Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils forward John Aguer (14) battle for a rebound in the first half at Carnesecca Arena. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s crushed Mississippi Valley State 119-61 Tuesday night in the college basketball season opener for both schools at the Carnesecca Center in Queens, N.Y.

The Red Storm raced to a double-digit lead in the first four minutes and sustained its relentless pressure throughout, building a 59-18 halftime lead and cruising from there. The Delta Devils, members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, didn’t mind the blistering pace but were overmatched.

Julian Champagnie, a preseason All-American, paced St. John’s with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting. The Red Storm’s 6-11 center Joel Soriano contributed 11 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks, helping his team dominate the lane. Posh Alexander added 18 points.

St. John’s, picked fourth in the Big East preseason poll, stretched the lead to 61 points in the second half as coach Mike Anderson emptied the bench, with six Red Storm players scoring in double figures.

St. John’s shot 69.2 percent from the field, hitting 13 of 25 3-pointers. The Red Storm handed out 30 assists on 45 field goals and snagged 10 offensive rebounds.

Using its pressure and athleticism to wreak havoc, St. John’s forced the Delta Devils into 18 turnovers, creating layups and dunks on the fastbreak.

The Red Storm, in its third year under Anderson, aims to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2019 and make just its second appearance in the last seven seasons.

Tareq Coburn, a graduate transfer from Hofstra, chipped in 13 points with three 3-pointers for St. John’s. Omar Stanley added 14 and Montez Mathis scored 11.

Caleb Hunter scored 16 points to lead Mississippi Valley State, which was 2-22 last season. The Delta Devils shot 29 percent.

St. John’s returns to the Carnesecca Center on Saturday to entertain Saint Peter’s out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, while Mississippi Valley State travels to play California Baptist on Saturday.

–Field Level Media