St. John's Red Storm guard Justin Simon (5) goes to the basket defended by Arizona State Sun Devils forward Romello White (23) in the first half in the First Four of the  NCAA Tournament on March 20, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio.

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St. John's Falls To Arizona State In NCAA Tournament, 74-65

March 21, 2019 - 12:04 am

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Plagued by poor shooting, St. John's made a quick exit from the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday night, falling to Arizona State 74-65 in a First Four game. 

The Red Storm shot just 32.4 percent from the floor, 26.7 percent from 3-point range and 56.5 percent from the free-throw line. St. John's, which never led, also had a pair of scoring droughts of five-plus minutes and produced just 25 first-half points.

Luguentz Dort overcame a hard foul and a leg injury to lead Arizona State with 21 points. 

The 11th-seeded Sun Devils (23-10) will play Mid-American Conference champion Buffalo on Friday in the West Region, coming off their first NCAA Tournament win in 10 years.

Arizona State also provided a Pac-12 breakthrough: the conference's first NCAA Tournament win in two years.

St. John's (21-13) was the last team picked for the tournament, sneaking in despite a late-season fade. The Red Storm wound up one of the first ones out as well.

Shamorie Ponds scored 25 points for St. John's, which hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game since 2000. 

Arizona State's physical defense brought the Red Storm to a halt. St. John's missed 17 of its first 23 shots as the Sun Devils built an 18-point lead. A technical foul on coach Bobby Hurley as he argued over a blocking foul with 25 seconds left in the half helped St. John's trim the deficit to 38-25.

Ponds had a steal and dunk as St. John's cut the lead to 40-33 early in the second half while Dort was on the bench getting his lower right leg treated. The freshman guard landed hard after extending for a rebound and getting fouled. Mustapha Heron was called for a flagrant foul.

Dort returned and hit a pair of free throws and a layup that blunted St. John's comeback. His fast-break layup rebuilt the lead to 16 points.

Ponds hit a 3-pointer as St. John's made a final surge, cutting it to 62-55 with 3:58 left. Dort made a pair of free throws that helped finish it off.

BIG PICTURE

St. John's: The Red Storm opened the season with 12 wins, their best start since the 1982-83 season, but faded at the end, losing five of its last six.

Arizona State: Hurley won national titles with Duke in 1991-92 and has shown his team video of the Final Four when he thought it could use a boost. In his fourth season at Arizona State, he has led the Sun Devils to their first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances since 1980-81.

WFAN.com contributed to this report.