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January 27, 2013

St. John's wins 4th straight over Seton Hall



NEW YORK (AP) St. John's coach Steve Lavin called a timeout when the Red Storm's 16-point lead over Seton Hall had been cut one with 4:21 to play. He was surprised with what he saw.

"The kids looked despondent. They looked like we just lost the game or were down 25," he said. "I said, `Fellas, this is the Big East. I would have liked to see the lead go to 25 or 30 but inevitably teams make runs.' Part of a young team is teams get down on themselves. We have to remind them to not be concerned with what just happened. Go for the win, but don't get carried away."

One player who heeded Lavin's advice was sophomore D'Angelo Harrison, who scored 10 of the Red Storm's final 12 points in a 71-67 victory over Seton Hall on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Harrison finished with 24 points and seven rebounds and freshman JaKarr Sampson added 19 points as St. John's won its fourth straight game.

Harrison, who is second in the Big East in scoring with a 19.6 average, started his burst with 9 minutes left and helped keep the Pirates, who closed within one point with 4:21 to play, at bay.

"That's our captain stepping up and doing what he does best," Sampson said of Harrison. "He scores the ball in tough situations."

Seton Hall used an 11-2 run to get within 60-59, but Harrison took over, hitting two jumpers and two free throws in the final 2:24.

"He plays all 40 minutes. He plays hard and makes free throws which is so important," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "What's tough about him is he can score off the dribble. He's a heck of a guard."

Phil Greene had 10 points for St. John's (13-7, 5-3 Big East) while freshman Chris Obekpa, who leads the nation with 4.6 blocked shots per game, had four blocks. He finished with four points, the last two a tip-in with 41 seconds left that gave the Red Storm a 67-62 lead.

Eugene Teague had a career-high 22 points for Seton Hall (13-7, 2-5), which has lost five of six. Fuquan Edwin, the fifth-leading scorer in the conference at 17.2 points per game, was hounded by the Red Storm into a 4-for-15 game from the field, including making one of six 3-point attempts. He finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.

"Fu's taking a lot of shots. He has to take better shots," Willard said. "If you don't double-team him he'll abuse you. He'll be back. He's the least of our worries."

Seton Hall had won three straight over the Red Storm and four of the last five. This was Seton Hall's first game against St. John's in Madison Square Garden since 2006.

St. John's closed the first half on a 17-4 run and the Red Storm scored the first six points of the second half for a 44-33 lead. The Red Storm's biggest lead was 16 points, the last time at 53-37 on a jumper by Greene with 14:46 to play.

"We haven't started or finished halves well," Willard said. "With all we're talking about, we shouldn't have been down 16."

Lavin said the winning streak, which also includes wins over Notre Dame, DePaul and Rutgers, has been filled with games which have been a lot alike.

"The last four games have had similar themes," Lavin said. "There have been stretches where we play brilliantly and stretches where teams will make runs on us. There are plenty of things we can improve upon both offensively and defensively. I'm most proud we found a way after Seton Hall went on a run. We went on a run of our own. That's the trend that is emerging now."

The Pirates made eight of their first 10 shots from the field and was ahead 29-21 with about 9 minutes to play. The Red Storm started their closing 17-4 run with a by Harrison who ended it with a 3 at the buzzer. He was standing alone near midcourt letting the clock run down and with 5 seconds left took a step back then dribbled across to his right and hit the shot at the buzzer for a 38-33 lead.


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