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December 24, 2009

STJ Walk-On Bulldogs; Eye BIG EAST

St. John's was revved up Wednesday night in a pre-Christmas match-up against Bryant at Carnesecca Arena.

Not only did the squad's raw passion drive a 36-point win, but it also earned quality minutes on the hardwood for its walk-ons.

"We just wanted to come out and just try to win and blow them out," said St. John's junior guard Paris Horne. "We wanted to try to help get the walk-ons on because we know maybe in the BIG EAST, they won't get to play. So, we just wanted to do that for them."

Because the game was not a matter of 'if' St. John's could win, but 'how much' the squad would win by, the contest served a different purpose. The Red Storm's (10-2, 0-0 BIG EAST) main objective was to get playing time for everyone in the usual rotation and for the walk-ons, who may never see minutes for the rest of the season.

St. John's earned about a 32-point advantage before the first walk-on entered the game with nearly 4:50 remaining in the second half.

"Every day they battle with us, they do everything we go through from boot camp to practices to sprints," said St. John's junior forward Sean Evans.. "They do everything except to get to play in a game. We were just happy to see them get out there and play."

The 80-44 trouncing over Bryant (0-12, 0-2 NEC) was hardly a story, as the Red Storm defense kept the Bulldogs offensively limited. Not one Bryant player scored in double-digits, as the team went 17-for-48 from the field. Bouncing back from the loss to Cornell wasn't a problem for St. John's as every player that recorded minutes, including the walk-ons, posted some points in the column.

"You can't get back yesterday, it's over and done with," said St. John's head coach Norm Roberts.. "So, we just moved on from it and said, 'Hey, we know what we did wrong, let's correct it, play better and focus in on this game and get better today.'"

Junior swingman D.J. Kennedy. continued his storied pomp, scoring from the perimeter to the paint. Kennedy finished with 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, including 3-for-6 from long range.

Junior guard Dwight Hardy. and Horne each netted 16 points in the contest, combining on 9-of-16 from the arc. Horne was back in full effect, lighting it up in the first half and scoring nine points off three consecutive 3-pointers in the final 2:41 before the game's midway mark.

"I knew it would happen sooner or later," said Horne. "I just stayed with it, stayed in the gym, just kept shooting. That's all."

Horne's 9-0 run to close the half, gave St. John's a 43-21 advantage at the break.

By halftime, Kennedy, Hardy and Horne were already in double figures.

Overall, St. John's owned an assist-to-turnover ratio of 20-to-9. While forcing 21 Bryant errors, the Red Storm converted those errors into 25 points. St. John's also won the rebounding game 47-30.

The victory over the Bulldogs served as a great morale booster for the Johnnies before hitting the road to face No. 14/13 Georgetown in St. John's BIG EAST opener on New Year's Eve.

"We got our spirits back up, bounced back from a loss and, now, we're just getting ready for the second half of the season," said Horne.

Ironically, the loss to St. John's preserved Bryant's all-time winless record (0-11) against BIG EAST opponents.


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