Shamorie Ponds scored 26 points, including four free throws in the final 9.1 seconds, as St. John’s upset No. 13 Butler 76-73 in the Big East opener for both teams at Carnesecca Arena Thursday night.
“I was just confident. I was confident going to the foul line and saying, ‘I’m going to make these two free throws,’” the Brooklyn-bred freshman said after the victory.
The Red Storm (7-7, 1-0), coming off last week’s overpowering 33-point win at Syracuse, came back from a ten point deficit with the Bulldogs (11-2, 0-1) before taking the lead at 72-71 on a free throw by Malik Ellison with 14.1 seconds left.
St. John’s kept the ball on the second miss and Ponds was fouled. He made two free throws before Tyler Lewis of Butler countered with the same at 6.7 seconds left. Ponds added two more with 6.2 seconds to go. Kelan Martin of Butler let a shot go from half-court at the buzzer that hit the rim before giving the young Red Storm team its first Big East victory of the season.“He’s a really phenomenal player, but he also has that (calm and cool) personality,” Johnnies coach Chris Mullin said of Ponds. “That is his demeanor on and off the court.”
Tie game!!!! Malik Ellison with the steal and score to knot it at 69! pic.twitter.com/DknCw8SWqF— St. John's BBall (@StJohnsBBall) December 30, 2016
Bashir Ahmed added 19 points for the Red Storm.
Tyler Wideman had 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting for the Bulldogs, and Martin scored 13.
The win ended Butler’s four-game winning streak over the Red Storm and stopped a streak of losses in St. John’s last four conference openers.