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  • Writer's pictureJoey Jarzynka

Vince Cole leads St. John's past Saint Peters in near upset

Welcome to New York, Vince Cole. The St. John's Red Storm narrowly defeated the Peacocks of Saint Peters University by a score of 76-75 inside Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday night. The night college basketball returned in 259 days.

The USC Salkehatchie transfer landed the game winning three-pointer with 8.5 seconds to go in the contest. Cole would conclude the contest with 21 total points, shooting 8-for-12 from the field, converting 5-of-6 from beyond-the-arc, and grabbing a pair of rebounds. The 6-foot-5 wing also tallied the final five points of the contest for the Johnnies.

All of the praise can't be only given to Cole, as freshman guard out of the Bronx, Posh Alexander, would steal one against the Peacocks, find junior guard Greg Williams Jr., who then fed the basketball to the aforementioned Cole on the near wing for the trey.

"All credit to Posh on the steal, because without Posh, none of that would've happened." said Cole about Alexander. "He's a dog. He does that everyday."

Alexander and Cole would shine bright on Utopia Parkway, as the two newcomers in the system of head coach Mike Anderson, would combine for 37 of 76 points for the Red Storm. 16 of those, came from the former, as Alexander also grabbed seven boards, and tallied six-of-eight from the charity stripe.

"Just playing in New York, that's what I've dreamed of, and everybody wants to hit the big shot. But I can't take all the credit for that." commented the JUCO transfer Cole. Pretty humble for a guy who just nailed down the game-winning shot against a Saint Peter's team, who isn't one to mess around with.

The Johnnies' undefeated 18-0 record against the Peacocks, was in serious danger. I asked coach Mike Anderson if the crowd-less Carnesecca Arena played a factor in the narrow victory. "With Julian (Champagnie) being on the bench, it was like having another assistant on the bench." commented Anderson. "If they were here, they would have willed us to get more points. We've gotta created our own energy, whether it be here or on the road. That's gonna be the lesson we learn."

(Photo credited to St. John's Red Storm Athletic Communications)

Early on, the Johnnies tallied a field-goal percentage of 14-for-26 (54%). Cole landed 11 points, and shot 4-of-5 from the field, and 3-of-3 from beyond-the-arc. Alexander netted the same amount from the field, and added five rebounds, and a pair of assists to his early resume in the first 20 minutes of play. St. John's would close the first half on an 8-2 run. Points in the paint for Saint Peters would be difference in the first half, as they outscored St. John's 24-16 in the category. Newcomers tallied 36 first half points, while Anderson's returners (Dunn, Earlington, Williams, Jr.) tallied a brutal eight points in the opening 20.

On the flip side for the Peacocks, forward KC Ndefo played a prominent role in the contest, as he landed 16 points on 7-of-9 from the field. Ndefo also grabbed seven board, stole three, and blocked three as well in 32 minutes on the floor. Guard Matthew Lee, also played a vital role for head coach Shaheen Holloway, and the Peacocks, as he helped extend his teams' lead to four, before the Johnnies reversed course and took over.

Final statistics from the opening contest of the 2020-21 season include 33 bench points for the Johnnies, 38 points in the paint for Saint Peters, 11 steals for the Red Storm, and a 43% shooting percentage from downtown, for the opposition.

Anderson spoke of the availability of sophomore forward Julian Champagnie (ankle), and senior guard Rasheem Dunn (face), and was noncommittal. Said the former was "doubtful" for tomorrow's Thanksgiving Day contest, but seemed optimistic about the availability for Monday against Boston College inside Mohegan Sun Arena.

Tomorrow, the Red Storm welcome the Explorers of LaSalle University to Carnesecca Arena for a 2 PM (EST) tip-off to continue the Lapchick Tournament.

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