QUEENS, N.Y. — Despite traveling nearly 5,700 miles to play four games in nine days, the Delaware State men’s basketball team found the energy to stun St. John’s 79-72 in a nationally televised contest at Carnesecca Arena on Tuesday evening.
The win marked the Hornets’ first against a Big East team and second vs. a major conference opponent in three seasons, rivaling their 72-65 victory over Wake Forest of the Atlantic Coast Conference on Nov. 26, 2014.
Delaware State (2-5) led for nearly 35 minutes in the contest. The Hornets held a 38-34 advantage at the half and outscored the Red Storm 41-38 in the final 20 minutes.
“We’re very fortunate to win,” said DSU coach Keith Walker. “I thought our guys did a good job. They played well and stuck to the game plan.
“We were able to do what we had practiced doing. We were able to have enough discipline to win at the end. The guys did well and I’m proud of the way they played tonight.”
The Red Storm (2-5) dropped its fifth straight game. Chris Mullen, an All-America at St. John’s and a former NBA star, is in his second season as head coach of the Red Storm.
He didn’t think his team overlooked the Hornets.
“We always talk about not fearing anybody but respecting everybody,” said Mullen. “We went through our regular preparation. (Delaware State) had to go out there and make those shots and I don’t think you can deny that. We’ve got to give them credit.”
DSU took its biggest lead, 63-48, when Devin Morgan hit a three-pointer with 9:56 left to play.
Morgan led all players with a season-high 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field, including 3-of-6 on three-point shots.
DeVaughn Mallory (Polytech) added a career-high 16 points for the Hornets. Mallory was 8-for-13 from the floor, and tied for the team lead with six rebounds.
Kavon Waller continued his torrid shooting this season, hitting 6-of-9 shots from the field and 3-of-6 on three-point attempts to contribute 15 points to the win.
Waller raised his overall shooting percentage to .564 (31-55) and a MEAC-best .606 on three-point shots (20-33) to rank in the top 10 among all Division I players. He has reached double figures in scoring in six of the Hornets’ seven games this season.
The Hornets shot 64 percent in the first half (16-25) and 53.3 percent in the second (16-30) to post a season-high 58.2 percent shooting percentage for the game.
“I think it bodes well for what teams in our league can do,” said the Hornets’ Walker. “We have some very good basketball teams in our league. We often have to play games at disadvantages.
“I thought St. John’s did a good job. When I was watching them play, I was very concerned with that guard play. I thought that guard play was excellent. We were able to slow them down, because if we had allowed them to play the pace they are accustomed to, it would have been a contest in their favor. I’m very happy we pulled this win out.”
Ahmed Bashir led four St. John’s players in double-figures with 19 points.
The Hornets return to action on Friday at in-state rival Delaware. The First State Rivalry contest begins at 7 p.m. at the Carpenter Center.
Delaware State has won its last two road games against the Blue Hens (2012, 2014).
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