St. Johns crushes Central Conn. behind Herons 30 – TheChronicleHerald.ca

St. Johns crushes Central Conn. behind Herons 30 - TheChronicleHerald.ca
Mustapha Herons career-best keeps St. Johns rolling
Mustapha Heron scored 30 points and host St. Johns pulled away in the opening minutes of the second half and posted an 87-57 victory over Central Connecticut on Saturday.

Heron followed up a 25-point showing in the season opener against Mercer by finishing one point shy of his career high set Nov. 24, 2017, against Winthrop when he played for Auburn. Heron shot 10 of 15, set a career high by hitting six 3-pointers and reached 1,500 points for his career.

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LJ Figueroa added 17 points as the Red Storm (2-0) posted their second straight blowout win under new coach Mike Anderson. Figueroa shot 6 of 16 and hit three of his five 3-pointers in the decisive 20-0 run that put St. Johns ahead 57-36 with 15:08 left.

Freshman Julian Champagnie contributed 10 points and eight rebounds while Damien Sears pulled down 11 rebounds as St. Johns outscored Central Connecticut 48-24 after halftime. The Red Storm shot 44.7 percent (34 of 76) from the field, including 11 of 28 3-pointers, and led by as many 35.

Greg Outlaw led the Blue Devils with 11 points and was their only double-figure scorer. Central Connecticut shot 34 percent (18-of-53) and committed 21 turnovers.

Heron scored 11 of the Red Storms first 13 points and it appeared like St. Johns would cruise from the outset. The Blue Devils came back with a 14-4 run and took an 18-17 lead on a layup by Stephane Ayangma with 9 1/2 minutes left and tied the score at 24-24 on a 34-pointer by Zach Newkirk nearly four minutes later.

St. Johns answered with a 9-0 run in 80 seconds to take a 33-24 lead on a Figueroa 3-pointer with 4 1/2 minutes left and held a 39-33 lead by halftime. Central Connecticut scored on its first possession of the second half but went 6:17 without a basket by committing six turnovers and missing five straight shots as St. Johns surged ahead.

Share All sharing options Share All sharing options for: Heron leads St. Johns to victory over Central Connecticut, 87-57 Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Wendell Cruz A strong second half and another dominant Mustapha Heron sighting helped the Red Storm to a win over Central Connecticut, 87-57.

St. Johns looks to add another win against the Wildcats of the University of New Hampshire on Tuesday at 7:00 PM in Carnesecca Arena.

After a 30-point victory over Mercer, St. Johns looked to do more of the same against the Central Connecticut Blue Devils. After the Mercer game, Coach Anderson noted that he wanted to used this non-conference schedule to develop some depth. With the Red Storm going up against Central Connecticut, who maintains the sixth-lowest KenPom rating this season, Anderson and the Red Storm looked to learn more about where its depth currently is.

Wendell Cruz St. Johns stormed out of the game with a little 7-0 run to go up 13-4 over the Blue Devils, but when Central Connecticut went into a 2-1-2 zone, the Johnnies struggled to move the ball and move without the ball. Outside of Mustapha Heron, the Red Storm scored 20 points on 9 of 29 from the field and 2 of 10 from deep.

To further complicate matters, the Red Storm were not able to force the necessary turnovers to get out in the open floor, and when they did force turnovers, they were unable to turn them into points. Central Connecticut turned the ball over five times before the break, and the Red Storm were only able to convert those turnovers into 2 points.

Mustapha and Josh Roberts, however, were brights spots for the Red Storm in the first half. Heron poured in 19 first half points, missed only two of his eight shots, and was perfect on all three attempts from beyond the arc. After a shaky rebounding game by the Red Storm against Mercer, Roberts appeared to be on a mission to plug that hole. Roberts grabbed 7 first half rebounds, added 4 points on a perfect 2/2 from the floor, and sent away 2 blocks.

Coming out of the break, the Red Storm began scoring at ease, going on a 24-1 run early in the half. After LJ Figueroa experienced a slightly inefficient first half (8 points, 3/10 FG, 2/5 3PT), he looked much improved in the second half for the Johnnies. LJ added 9 points (3/6 FG, 3/5 3PT) after the break and dished out 4 assists to lead St. Johns on that early run.

Although Central Connecticut was successful in protecting the ball in the first half, St. Johns turned up the pressure and the Blue Devils were not able to handle it. Central Connecticut turned the ball over 16 times in the second half, and the Red Storm converted these into 22 points.

Defensively, the Johnnies did not allow anything easy in the second half. They barely even allowed anything difficult, as the Red Storm held Central Connecticut to 24 points on a paltry 32% field goal percentage in the half.

Between the early run by the Johnnies and their lock-down defense late, Central Connecticut was unable to make a run at a comeback, and the Red Storm pick up another win, 87-57.