David Jones fuels St. John’s second-half win over Central Connecticut

When Julian Champagnie left the program to try his luck in the NBA ranks, St. John’s knew it would be a challenge to replace its production (19.2 ppg).

So far, David Jones is proving that he will play an important role in overcoming this challenge.

The DePaul transfer started slow, missing his first six shots. Two free throws and a layup at the final 1:30 of the first half seemed to awaken his goal threat.

At the 12:08 mark of the second half, Jones slipped in for a layup, then grabbed an offensive rebound and put it home. With confidence, he grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled across the court into a pull-up three-pointer, and sank it.

“David put the pressure on in the first half,” said coach Mike Anderson. “He came to the free-throw line and suddenly he hit a bucket, then he’s able to score several goals.”

Jones scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half as St. John’s clinched a 91-74 win over Central Connecticut State at Carnesseca Arena on Tuesday night.

“My coaches and teammates always tell me the shots are going to come,” Jones said. “I tried to do different things to help the team in the first half but there were shots in the second half.”

It was another game for St. John’s, who started slowly defensively, but they still led 40-36 at halftime. The Red Storm (3-0) let the Blue Devils (0-3) shoot 54% and 46% from three in the first half.

“We had to stop on defense, make adjustments,” Posh Alexander said in reference to the halftime message. “We went into the zone and were better connected.”

St. John’s relied heavily on Joel Soriano early on. On their first possession, he hit the post and hit a turnaround baby hook. Double-collaborating on his next touch, Central Connecticut found Montez Mathis for an open three-pointer.

After scoring in the second half, Jones found AJ Storr (16 points) for an open turn three and the Red Storm began dumping him. Posh Alexander (12 points, six assists) electrified the crowd as he threw a ball off the board in transition that Storr slammed home.

The Red Storm shot 55% from the field and conceded eight threes. In the second half, they limited the Blue Devils to 28% long-range shots and held Nigel Scantlebury to just four points after a 12-point first half.

“We didn’t get the places we needed, they got every loose ball, they got in,” Anderson said. “We have to be more careful; We have to get closer to the next game [Nebraska] than big game and find a way to win.”