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November 25, 2008

Johnnies Storm Past Loyola

QUEENS, N.Y. - St. John's closed out its three-game, four-day home swing with a 73-54 victory over the Ramblers of Loyola (Ill.), in the Consolation Round of the 2008 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off.

Scoring more than 70 points for the sixth-straight game, the Red Storm jumped to a 16-5 run in the second half that left the Ramblers trailing by 20 with just under two minutes left in the night cap of Tuesday's doubleheader at the newly-renovated Carnesecca Arena.

With the victory, St. John's (5-1) posted a final 3-1 record in the 2008 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off, with its only loss to Boston College in the Opening Round on Nov. 18.

Redshirt-sophomore Rob Thomas scored a career-best 13 points in as many minutes, shooting 5-of-6 from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from the free throw line to mark his first-career double-digit scoring effort. He also added four rebounds, with three coming on the offensive end.

"[Playing this well] felt really good. Coach has given me the opportunity to step up, and I can definitely use this game as a building block," said Thomas. "It was time for this to happen. I've been waiting two years for this to happen."

Thomas was aided by classmate Paris Horne, who poured in 12 points for St. John's in his third straight game with double-figures, to which he added six rebounds.

St. John's got off to an early lead, with a 16-4 run starting at 13:57 that expanded the Red Storm lead to 26-14. Freshman TyShwan Edmondson capped the stretch with his first-career 3-pointer at 6:54, to put the Red Storm ahead 30-14.

The Ramblers countered with a six-minute, 10-point run of their own sparked by Justin Cerasoli starting at 6:57 to bring Loyola within three, 30-27, at the 1:15 mark in the first half. With just over a minute to play in the period, St. John's called a timeout to put and end to Loyola's run. Two points from Justin Burrell at the line increased the Red Storm lead to five, 32-27, but Rambler J.R. Blount put one in off his own rebound to end scoring at the half 32-29.

Coming out of the halftime break, Blount hit a jumper to cut it close and bring Loyola within one, 32-31. Sophomore D.J. Kennedy grabbed the rebound off Cerasoli's missed jumper to break up the Loyola possession and get the ball down court to sophomore Sean Evans, who rolled in a layup to extend St. John's lead back to three.

After the close call, St. John's scored 28 points to the Ramblers' 11, on a run that went well into the second media time out. The Red Storm outrebounded the Ramblers by nine in the second period and never trailed by more than 11 the rest of the way.

Next up, St. John's will host its fourth game in eight days as the Red Storm faces St. Francis (N.Y.) on Monday, Dec. 1 at Carnesecca Arena. Tip off is slated for 7:30 p.m.

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