Stunned

<B>NEW YORK, NY -- </b> Sophomore guard Daryll "Showtime" Hill finished with 19 points and five rebounds as St. John's (6-4) stunned No. 17 NC State (10-2) 63-45 in the Holiday Festival finals.

  • Box Score

  • Audio: Sendek

  • Audio: Wolfpack Players

    It's probably not possible that NC State could have played a worst game, particularly in the first half when the Wolfpack hit just three field goals while connecting on 13% from the field.

    "We were having one of those nights, and that doesn't take anything away from St. John's defense," Head Coach Herb Sendek said. "I don't want to be misconstrued as a poor sport or sore loser, but we were horrible.

    "It just wasn't our night from beginning to end, it really wasn't."

    St. John's came out early and played inspired, scraping on defense and forcing NC State to settle for perimeter jumpers while manhandling them on the glass. Sophomore point guard Daryll Hill dominated the game from his position, as he continued to hit big baskets for the Red Storm and manage the game like a leader.

    But, the deciding factor of the game was NC State's inability to make baskets. For the game they shot just 20% from the floor, connecting on just 13-of-65 field goals. Starters Tony Bethel, Jordan Collins, and Levi Watkins finished with a total of zero points on 0-10 shooting. At one point in the second half, the Wolfpack was in the midst of a 13-minute field goal scoring drought, after hitting just 3-of-31 shot attempts.

    "Three for thirty-one from the field?" Sendek asked when given the statistic from one reporter. "You can usually throw hook shots in from halfcourt at that rate."

    Wolfpack senior Julius Hodge tried to get things going in the second half when he connected on 7-of-12 attempts to finish with 19 points and six rebounds, but it was not enough as the Wolfpack could never get the score closer than 15 points.

    "In the second half I just said I'm just going to impose my will on this game, but it was a little too late," Hodge said. "They had too big of a lead and once a team gets up like that there's really not too much you can do."

    NC State's reserves showed hustle late in the game, as freshmen Andrew Brackman, Gavin Grant, and Cedric Simmons all received quality minutes in the second half. Grant finished with seven points and six rebounds, Brackman had four points and six boards, and Simmons totaled five points, two rebounds, and a block.

    But with Bethel still battling the flu and the frontcourt starters struggling, NC State never seemed to be ready to play from the opening tip, as St. John's jumped out to leads of 8-0 and 13-5 before entering the half up 27-10.

    "In the first half we had 11 turnovers and scored ten points," Ilian Evtimov said. "You can't win when you play like that. You've got to run your offense."

    Hodge led NC State in scoring with 19 points and Cameron Bennerman added eight.

    "This was just one of those games where all those things that could go wrong did go wrong," Bennerman said. "Coach has been warning us all season about this, and it's inevitable that you'll have a game or two like this each season. But, we can't let this happen again with the ACC season right around the corner."

    St. John's was led in scoring by Hill (19), and Eugene Lawrence added ten points and seven boards.

    Whatever the problems, NC State must find a cure soon as an undefeated West Virginia squad comes into the RBC Center on January 2nd. The Mountaineers knocked off a ranked George Washington team this week, and they will be eager to face an ACC team this weekend.

    St. John's (6-4) is playing well for first-year head coach Norm Roberts, and at just the right time with Big East play right around the corner.

  • Wolfpack players Julius Hodge and Cameron Bennerman earned All-Tournament honors while St. John's guard Daryll Hill camptured the Tournament MVP Award.


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