Feb. 13, 2011
CINCINNATI (AP) - Held without a field goal for the final 8:59, St. John's saw a 12-point lead erased before making 7-of-10 free throws down the stretch to hang on for a 59-57 win against Cincinnati at Fifth Third Arena.
Dwight Hardy was 7-of-15 from the floor and 4-of-7 from long range for a game-high 18 points to lead St. John's (15-9, 7-5 BIG EAST), which is 7-5 in conference play for the first time since the 2000-01 season and has already eclipsed last year's conference win total.
Justin Brownlee added 16 points and seven rebounds for St. John's, which also improved to 3-3 on the road in BIG EAST play, 6-6 away from its home arena and 8-7 against teams in the RPI top 100.
"In terms of the game, I felt that we came out with good energy, but I was concerned that Cincinnati was going to make a run and naturally they did," said head coach Steve Lavin. "They got second and third efforts from point blank range and the next thing you know we are trailing in a tough environment. I'm proud of our team for maintaining their composure and finding a way to win. It was just enough stops and free throws that made the difference today."
Sean Kilpatrick scored 15 points, Dion Dixon added 12 and Rashad Bishop chipped in 10 to lead Cincinnati (19-6, 6-6).
After a Hardy 3-pointer put the Red Storm up 52-40 with 8:59 left, St. John's missed its final six shots from the field. The Bearcats, meanwhile, pulled ahead, 56-53, on a basket from Ibrahima Thomas with 2:07 left in regulation.
Justin Burrell sank a pair of free throws before Malik Boothe added two more free throws to put the Red Storm ahead 58-57 with 42 seconds left. After Bishop missed a jumper, Brownlee was fouled and made the first of his two free throws with 3.5 seconds to go.
A Kilpatrick heave from just inside the midcourt line was off at the buzzer.
Brownlee helped St. John's get the early lead, scoring 10 points in a 24-14 run to open the game. Cincinnati struggled to move the ball against the Red Storm zone defense, relying on 3-pointers for the bulk of its points. Six of the first seven Bearcat baskets were 3s and Kilpatrick made three in that stretch.
St. John's shot 62.5 percent (15-of-24) from the field to take a 35-30 lead at the break, but Cincinnati drained seven 3-pointers in the opening half to keep the game close.
The 3-pointers stopped falling early in the second half and St. John's extended its lead. After stripping Kilpatrick of the ball for a layup, Hardy scored off a fastbreak to give the Red Storm a 45-33 lead just 4:34 into the second half.
The Red Storm continues its road trip by traveling to Marquette for a 9 p.m. contest on Feb. 15 on ESPNU.