St. John’s tops Fordham amid Mike Anderson’s lineup tweaks

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Mike Anderson shook up his starting lineup. The result, coincidence or not, was a step in the right direction. 

The St. John’s coach inserted sophomore guard Dylan Addae-Wusu and mobile forward Esahia Nyiwe, and both contributed to a much-needed improved performance after Friday’s ugly 20-point loss to Kansas. 

Sunday night’s 83-69 victory over Fordham was by no means spotless. The 3-point defense and turnover issues remained concerns. But there were more sustained stretches of solid play, a quality start and really no worries of an upset over the final minutes. It was progress for a team that has struggled to play consistently. 

Anderson only used seven players in the second half after going 11 deep early in the opening frame, and it seemed to work. Posh Alexander was the best player on the floor, notching 23 points and five assists, while Addae-Wusu (11 points, 11 assists, four steals) and Nyiwe (seven points, eight rebounds, three blocks) each played pivotal roles. Julian Champagnie had 16 points and eight rebounds in a supporting role. 

St. John's
Mike Anderson only used seven players in the second half.
AP

Anderson’s reworked lineup produced the team’s best start in several games. There was more cohesion, connectivity and an early eight-point lead. 

Once Anderson went deep into the bench, Fordham began to develop an offensive rhythm, particularly from deep. A 15-6 run, fueled by 12 of Darius Quisenberry’s 16 points, enabled the Rams to go ahead. But when Anderson went back to his more mobile big men O’Mar Stanley and Nyiwe, St. John’s regained command, closing the first half on a 17-4 run to take a 13-point lead into the break. 

The momentum carried over into the second half, the lead reaching 19 points at one juncture. St. John’s played fast and it made quicker decisions. The defensive lapses were less frequent. Fordham didn’t get blown away, getting as close as eight, but St. John’s never felt in danger. It cruised to a 14-point win, it’s biggest margin of victory since the second game of the season. 

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