MEN’S BASKETBALL: Ponds Scores 22 In Return, St. John’s Beats Creighton 81-66

NEW YORK (AP) – Shamorie Ponds had 22 points and five assists in his return from a back injury and St. John’s broke away from Creighton for an 81-66 victory Wednesday night.

Mustapha Heron scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting for the Red Storm (15-3, 3-3 Big East), who lost their previous two games. That quickly knocked St. John’s out of the AP Top 25 this week after the school’s first appearance in four years.

LJ Figueroa had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Justin Simon added 16 points and four steals.

Ponds, the Big East preseason player of the year and one of the nation’s top guards, missed Saturday night’s home loss to DePaul with a lower back strain.

“It’s definitely getting better. I can’t put a number on it but it’s definitely getting close to 100 percent,” Ponds said.

Marcus Zegarowski had 17 points to lead the Bluejays (10-8, 1-4), who have lost four in a row.

Playing at Carnesecca Arena on campus, St. John’s scored 17 points off 13 Creighton turnovers. Consecutive baskets by Figueroa made it 64-53 with 6:56 remaining, and the lead grew to 17 down the stretch.

Creighton cut the margin to 46-43 when Martin Krampelj dunked with 14 minutes to go. St. John’s outscored the Bluejays 21-14 over the next nine minutes and led 67-55 after Heron’s 3-pointer.