March 3, 2012
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - In a game in which neither team led by more than five points and also featured eight ties and 10 lead changes, Rutgers held on for a 61-58 win against St. John's in the BIG EAST regular season finale. The Red Storm, which finished tied for 11th in the league standings, one spot better than its position in the preseason poll, earned the No. 12 seed in the upcoming BIG EAST Championship and will play No. 13 Pitt in the first round.
D'Angelo Harrison scored a game-high 17 points to lead St. John's (13-18, 6-12), while Amir Garrett finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. God'sgift Achiuwa added 12 points and eight boards for St. John's, which shot just 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) from the free throw line. Moe Harkless finished with eight points and a game-high 11 boards.
Eli Carter had 15 points and Mike Poole added 11 for Rutgers (14-17, 6-12), which had four players in double-figures. Dane Miller had 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Myles Mack added 10 points for the Scarlet Knights,
Rutgers broke the tie after the break and a Gilvydas Biruta layup helped the Scarlet Knights grab a four-point advantage, 33-29, with 15:53 to play. After a Harrison trey and a Sir'Dominic Pointer layup put St. John's back on top, Rutgers answered before a Harkless layup leveled the score at 38-38, the seventh tie of the game. After Rutgers took the lead back, St. John's went on an 11-2 run to take its largest lead of the game, 49-44, with 6:07 to go. Tied for the eighth time at 52-52, a pair of Harrison free throws and an Achiuwa jam put the Red Storm up 56-52 with just 2:38 remaining. A Miller tip-in and a Mack 3-pointer, however, gave Rutgers the lead back at 57-56. An Achiuwa offensive board and follow put the Red Storm up 58-57 with less than a minute to go, but a Miller putback slam gave the Scarlet Knights the 59-58 edge with nine seconds left. Rutgers made a pair of free throws and a desperation halfcourt shot by Harrison rimmed out.
A Carter 3-pointer capped a 7-2 Rutgers run to open the game, but St. John's countered with a 9-2 run as a Pointer jumper gave the Red Storm an 11-9 lead with 10:57 to play. After the Scarlet Knights tied the game, a Harkless layup put the Red Storm back up by four, 15-11. Rutgers tied the game again at 15-15, the fourth tie of the contest, before fastbreak layups by Harrison and Garrett put St. John's back up by four, 19-15. A Harrison steal and another fastbreak layup followed by a Harkless jam put the Red Storm up 25-22 with 1:24 in the half, but a Carter trey leveled the score at 25-25 at the break.
The first round game between St. John's and Pitt is scheduled for 2 p.m. on March 6 at Madison Square Garden and will air on ESPN2.