New York, NY -- A crowd of 13,101 stood in approval as the St. John's Red Storm took the floor with 30 seconds to play tied with Villanova 63-63 in a key BIG EAST matchup this afternoon. Enter SJU's Marcus Hatten. The junior guard hit a fallaway jump shot with eight seconds to play sending the Madison Square Garden faithful into a frenzy as St. John's hung on for a 65-63 victory. St. John's improved to 9-0 at home this season with the win.
Hatten would finish with 29 points, six assists and four steals carrying St. John's (13-4, 4-2 BIG EAST) on his back scoring 11 of their last 16 points to pace the win. The come-from-behind victory came after SJU found itself trailing 46-35 with 12:40 to play in the game. That's when the Red Storm stepped up its defense and went on a 19-6 run, capped by Willie Shaw's three-point goal to give SJU a 54-52 advantage.
Villanova (rebounding from a 32-29 halftime deficit) responded with a dunk from Brooks Sales (14 points, 12 rebounds) to tie the game at 54-all, but Hatten (with ice-water in his veins) drilled a 30 footer from well behind the NBA three-point arc for a 57-54 lead. The lead would sway back and forth until things got interesting with under 1:30 left in the game.
Shaw (13 points) hit two big free-throws with 1:13 remaining to put SJU back on top 63-61. Then Nova's Ricky Wright (14 points, seven rebounds) answered with a five-footer in the lane with 30 seconds to go for a 63-63 tie to set up Hatten's heroics.
The silky, smooth 6-1 guard let the clock wind down as he held court at the top of the key before slicing his way to the basket with 12 ticks left. Hatten pulled up and hit an off-balance 10-footer just to the left of the foul line to preserve the win. The Wildcats (10-5, 3-3 BIG EAST) also got key contributions from Derrick Snowden (14 points) and Gary Buchanan (12 points) in the loss. Kyle Cuffe came off the bench to record 11 points for St. John's, as the Red Storm outscored Villanova's reserves 19-4.
The game couldn't have been any closer as the statistics proved with both teams finishing with 32 rebounds apiece and 18 turnovers each. The key stat may have been SJU's ability to score off Villanova turnovers holding a 26-16 advantage in that category.
St. John's returns to action on Wednesday, January 23 as they travel to Connecticut for a BIG EAST road clash. The game will be televised on WLNY-TV55
and broadcast on ESPN radio 1050AM.