Postgame Reaction With Dwight Hardy
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Pretty wins some nights, gritty wins others - it's all added up to a four-game win streak, two-straight road victories, a 2-0 BIG EAST mark and a share of first place in the league standings after two contests for the first time since the 1999-2000 season for first-year coach Steve Lavin and St. John's.
The Red Storm certainly had to pull a victory out of "Column B" on Saturday night in Providence, as Dwight Hardy scored 21 points, Justin Brownlee contributed 14 with a game-high nine boards and Justin Burrell added 13 as St. John's posted a 67-65 victory over the Friars at Dunkin' Donuts Center.
However, in two crucial late moments, a different hero emerged for the Red Storm. Senior sparkplug Paris Horne first hit a wide-open corner 3-pointer with the score tied and 28 seconds on the clock, and then drew an offensive foul on Providence's Marshon Brooks on the ensuing possession.
"Paris is always in the gym early and stays late, he works hard on those perimeter drills. He deserves it. In terms of basketball karma, if someone has earned the right to make that shot, it's Paris Horne," said Lavin. "Having been here four years, you really want to see him and all the seniors do well. They're all enjoying this little run, but they also know it's a marathon. It's a large mountain to climb in the BIG EAST."
St. John's (9-3, 2-0) kept Providence (11-4, 0-2) off the scoreboard until the game's fifth minute, but the Friars promptly put together a 10-0 run capped by an alley-oop pass launched three-quarters of the court from Vincent Council to Brooks.
St. John's responded with a 16-2 run and made 14 of its 28 attempts from the field in the first half, shooting 50 percent to Providence's 32.1 percent (9-of-28). The Red Storm entered halftime with a 28-24 advantage, Providence's worst first-half total of the season.
St. John's continued its sharp shooting in the second half, and 11 points in three minutes from Hardy put the Red Storm up by as many 12.
Uncharacteristic Red Storm turnovers then resulted in 10 straight Friar points in less than two minutes, including five by Gerard Coleman on a three-point play and a deft steal and layup, giving Providence a one-point lead with four minutes to play.
With the score tied and just over two minutes on the clock, Brooks blocked a Burrell dunk, and Council scored on the ensuing fast break. St. John's Brownlee quickly responded to tie the game back up, and then found Horne for his 3-pointer with 28 seconds remaining to put the Red Storm up by three points with one meaningful possession left for the Friars. Brooks was called for the offensive foul, and St. John's escaped with the victory.
The Red Storm outshot the Friars 52.7 percent (29-of-55) to 43.9 percent (25-of-57) for the game and held a narrow rebounding advantage, 31-29. St. John's also ruled the paint for the second-straight game, this time for a 48-32 scoring advantage.
STJ returns to The Garden for a Jan. 3 Big Monday meeting with current No. 9/9 Georgetown (7 p.m., ESPN2). The squad faces No. 15/15 Notre Dame in South Bend on Jan. 8 (8 p.m., ESPNU).