Dec. 29, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - St. John's shot a season-high 61.0 percent (25-for-41) from the floor, Dwight Hardy scored a game-high 20 points and D.J. Kennedy recorded his 11th career double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds) as the Red Storm defeated West Virginia, 81-71, in the BIG EAST opener for each team, and the first league win of the Steve Lavin Era.
Defeating the Mountaineers in Morgantown for the first time since an 80-68 triumph on Feb. 9, 1999, St. John's (8-3, 1-0 BIG EAST) also shot 76.9 percent (30-for-39) from the charity stripe and grabbed a 37-27 rebounding advantage to start 1-0 in BIG EAST play for the first time since the 2006-07 season. The game also marked West Virginia's first home loss since Feb. 8 against Villanova.
Twice in the second half, West Virginia (8-3, 0-1 BIG EAST) - the defending BIG EAST champion and a 2010 Final Four participant - cut the Red Storm's lead to three points, but both times Justin Brownlee came up with a big bucket to slow down the Mountaineers' momentum.
St. John's, which led 61-53 with 6:48 in regulation, used an 8-2 run to open up its largest lead of the game, 69-55, with 2:58 remaining.
After shooting 50.0 percent (12-for-24) in the opening stanza, St. John's fired at a 76.5 percent clip (13-for-17) in the second frame. The Mountaineers also had a hard time stopping St. John's in transition, as the Red Storm scored 10 points off fast breaks and dominated in the paint, outscoring the Mountaineers 40-6. "This was the third consecutive game we were highly efficient offensively in the second half, against Davidson, Northwestern and West Virginia. And it's a testament to the kids, really sharing the ball and their willingness to make that extra pass," said Lavin. "We talk about the one-more pass. I thought tonight in some key possessions and sequences they were willing to make that one extra pass that leads to a high percentage look. When you do that for a long period as we did, the numbers reflect that with the 76 percent."
West Virginia hoisted up 22 3-pointers in the first half and made seven treys, while the Red Storm used a balanced attack to take a 34-28 advantage at halftime.
Brownlee finished with17 points for St. John's, while Justin Burrell was also in double figures with 13 points.
Kevin Jones led the way for West Virginia, scoring 17 points. Truck Bryant added 14 and Casey Mitchell and Jonnie West had 12 apiece.
STJ remains on the road to face Providence on New Year's Day, Saturday at 7 p.m. (SNY), before returning to The Garden for a Jan. 3 Big Monday meeting with Georgetown (7 p.m., ESPN2).