Merrimack falls to St. John's on opening night
NEW YORK — David Jones collected 21 points and 10 rebounds as host St. John's took control in the opening minutes and cruised to a 97-72 victory over Merrimack on Monday night.
Posh Alexander added 14 points, six steals, and five assists while Andre Curbelo contributed 13 points and seven assists in his debut after transferring from Illinois.
Jordan Minor led Merrimack with 19 points while freshman Jordan Derkack added 15 points off the bench. Merrimack, the preseason favorite in the Northeast Conference, shot 38.5 percent, committed 21 turnovers, and missed 23 of 29 3-point tries.
Newcomers Jaylen Stinson (9 points) and Devon Savage (8 points) made their Merrimack debuts after transferring from James Madison.
Merrimack’s starting five included three new players, with Stinson, Savage, and freshman Javon Bennett all getting the start. Ziggy Reid joined Minor as the two returning starters.
Jones capped a 23-5 run by hitting a layup to give St. John's a commanding 32-14 lead with 9:22 remaining in the opening half.
Jones hit three 3-pointers to give St. John's a 65-38 lead less than four minutes into the second half, but Merrimack got within 71-56 on two free throws by Derkack with 8:34 left.
St. John's finished it off with a 16-2 run highlighted by Jones' fifth 3-pointer to extend its lead to 87-58 with 5:02 left following a layup by Alexander.
Merrimack will host Clark University on Thursday night at Hammel Court in the home opener.