Zion Williamson dominates on both ends as Duke routs St. John’s

Tre Jones stymied Shamorie Ponds, Zion Williamson proved unstoppable and No. 2 Duke rolled to another win on Saturday.

Jones hounded Ponds, St. John’s leading scorer, into a scoreless first half while Williamson scored Duke’s final 10 points of the half on the way to a 29-point game.

That combination proved more than enough to allow the Blue Devils to run away and beat the Red Storm 91-61 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke (19-2) extended its streak of non-conference wins at home to 147. The last time Duke lost to a non-ACC team at Cameron Indoor Stadium was 19 years ago this month when St. John’s won 83-82 on Feb. 26, 2000.

The Red Storm (16-6) made an early bid for another upset this time, staying within two points of Duke over the game’s first 17 minutes. But Williamson and the Blue Devils took a 47-37 halftime lead and turned the game lopsided in the early minutes of the second half.

Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) goes in for a dunk in the first half against St. John’s at Cameron Indoor Stadium In Durham, N.C. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Chuck Liddy

Williamson scored 19 first-half points and made 13 of 17 shots in the game. He also had five steals while blocking two shots and grabbing six rebounds.

Freshman forward Cam Reddish hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points for Duke. Fellow freshman RJ Barrett scored 15 points with 14 rebounds and four assists for the Blue Devils, who shot 55.6 percent.

In addition to his superior defense on Ponds, Jones finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Duke.

Ponds entered the game averaging 20.9 points per game. He scored 33 points last season when St. John’s upset Duke 81-77 at Madison Square Garden.

But Jones, Duke’s freshman point guard, made the 6-1 Ponds a non-factor. Ponds missed all five of his shots from the field in the first half. His first points came on two free throws 13 seconds into the second half.

Ponds didn’t make a field goal until the 15:28 mark when Duke up 63-39 and in control of the game. Ponds finished with 11 points on 3 of 11 shooting from the field.

After Ponds went scoreless and Duke lead 47-37 at halftime, the Blue Devils blew the game open with a 16-0 run early in the second half.

Barrett scored the first two baskets of the run. Marques Bolden hit a free throw and missed the second. But Williamson rebounded and scored to put Duke up 54-39.

Duke made its first five shots of the game and seven of its first eight, including all four 3-pointers, but St. John’s stayed with the Blue Devils and the game was tied at 19 after six minutes of play.

Though Jones was on his way to holding Ponds scoreless in the first half, LJ Figueroa and Marvin Clark made up for that deficiency with 12 points each in the first half.

Figueroa’s basket with 3:27 left cut Duke’s lead to 35-33.

The Blue Devils had a strong finishing kick to the half, though, and Williamson factored on both ends.

Jones scored on a layup and Williamson added a basket inside for a 39-33 Duke lead. That started a streak where Williamson scored Duke’s final 10 points of the half.

After Barrett missed two free throws, Williamson rebounded the second miss and scored.

Williamson hit two free throws with 1:15 left in the half and scored inside with 41 seconds left for a 45-37 Duke lead.

With 23 seconds left, after stealing a Ponds pass, Williamson drove the court for a one-handed slam dunk that put Duke up 47-37 at intermission.

Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) reacts after a slam dunk against St. John’s. Duke Blue Devils center Marques Bolden (20) is in the background celebrating. Duke defeated St. John’s 91-61at Cameron Indoor Stadium In Durham, N.C. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Chuck Liddy

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An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.