Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — With a loss to DePaul Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, Shamorie Ponds and the Red Storm would have faced the unenviable prospect of owning an 0-3 record against the Blue Demons this season.
As bad as that sounds, a loss could also have had disastrous implications for St. John’s NCAA Tournament dreams.
But the No. 7 -seeded Johnnies got a win when they desperately needed, topping No. 10 DePaul 82-74 to advance to the Big East Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday night against No. 2 Marquette at 7 p.m. The Red Storm (21-11) have beaten the Golden Eagles twice this season. The attendance was a paid sellout of 19,812, the first in the first round since 2013.
If St. John’s can make it 3-0 against newly-minted Big East Player of the Year Markus Howard and Marquette, they would face the Seton Hall/Georgetown winner in Thursday’s semifinals.
“It’s definitely important for us,” said St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds, who had 18 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds. “I feel like with this group we can do something special. We packed for four days, so that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
Of Marquette, he added: “It definitely shows that we can beat them. We just have to have the same game plan that we beat them at their home and our home, so I’m looking forward to the game.”
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — It was a tough day for seeded players at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday, with Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, the world’s top-ranked players, ushered out in the desert.
Djokovic and Philipp Kohlschreiber resumed their third-round match that was suspended because of rain a night earlier. The unseeded German knocked off the five-time tournament champion 6-4, 6-4.
Osaka lost to Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-1 in just over an hour in the fourth round of the first title defense of her career.
“She sort of came out there really aggressive,” Osaka said. “She sort of knew what she wanted to do more than me.”
Since Osaka won the title at Indian Wells a year ago, she won the U.S and Australian Opens. Her triumph in Australia made her No. 1 for the first time, but her time at the top has been rocky. Osaka fired her coach and lost in the first round in Dubai before taking on a new coach, Jermaine Jenkins, who came on court during the match.