NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Shomorie Ponds scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half and combined with Justin Simon for nine points in a game-ending run as undefeated St. John’s fended off Princeton 89-74 on Sunday at the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival.

Princeton trailed by 19, 75-66, with eight minutes left after Ponds scored 10 points in a 26-8 run. But the Tigers responded by outscoring the Red Storm 18-5, capped by a 3-pointer by Jose Morales, and closed within six with 3:41 remaining but didn’t score again, missing their final six shots.

LJ Figueroa added 17 points and Marvin Clark II 13 with both grabbing a game-high eight rebounds for the Red Storm (9-0), who shot 56 percent in getting off to their best start since the 1990-91 team also began 9-0.

Devin Cannady made six 3-pointers and scored 18 points and Jaelin Llewellyn, in his collegiate debut, added 17 for Princeton (4-4), making its first Garden appearance since 2000 and playing St. John’s for the first time since 1982.

St. John’s led 41-38 at halftime on Figueroa’s 3-point play in the final minute.

Before the game, St. John’s honored late Hall of Fame basketball writer Jim O’Connell of The Associated Press with a special presentation to his family. The players wore a red patch with O’Connell’s nickname, “Oc.” O’Connell, an alumnus, was a fixture covering sports at the Garden. He died in July at the age of 64. Madison Square Garden will also place a permanent plaque at his work space in the media room.

With Big East conference schedule just three weeks away, the Red Storm will go for their 10th straight win on Dec. 16 against Wagner.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)