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November 2, 2013

St. John's wins season opener

QUEENS, NY - Over a two-year, 1,000-plus point career with the Red Storm, D'Angelo Harrison has proven that he's not afraid to knock down the big shot.

He did so again on Saturday, though most probably did not expect to have to see a shot so crucial from the junior guard in what turned out to be an 82-80 victory over NCAA Division II San Francisco State in St. John's exhibition opener.

Harrison's 15-footer was part of a 29 point-effort which gave the Red Storm an 81-80 lead with 17 seconds to play - the first advantage for St. John's since the 16-minute mark in the second half. Harrison's final score of the night came on a free throw with 4.8 seconds to go, before a final Gator 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short to give the Red Storm the win.

"Clearly there are a number of aspects, both offensively and defensively, that we have to clean up," said Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin. "While that's discouraging, the good news is they are correctable flaws. Postgame we went down the list of areas that we need to improve upon, yet the kids deserve some credit for having the resourcefulness to find a way to win when things weren't going well for us, and that's an important trait. Coach Wooden always said he'd rather be ahead than behind, rather be lucky than unlucky and would rather win than lose."

Harrison, a preseason All-BIG EAST first team selection, connected on 8-of-15 field goals, made 3-of-6 3-point attempts and fired at a 10-of-12 clip from the free throw line. BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year Rysheed Jordan scored 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including drilling his only shot from long-range, and a 3-of-4 effort from the charity stripe. The lone freshman also contributed four rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Also making a strong unofficial debut, senior Orlando Sanchez scored nine points with a game-high 10 boards (four offensive) with four assists and four steals. Graduate forward God'sgift Achiuwa, seeing his first action after a redshirt season in 2012-13, had an impact off the bench with eight points and nine rebounds. Junior swingman Sir'Dominic Pointer tallied 11 points - including a 5-of-6 performance at the line - and collected six rebounds (three offensive) with four steals.

Nefi Perdomo, who led the Gators with 23 points, missed a jumper with eight seconds left. Harrison made his final free throw and Will Overton Jr. of the Gators couldn't connect on his 3-point attempt as time expired.

The Gators led 73-65 with 8:30 to play, their biggest lead of the game and a 16-point swing from when the Red Storm held a 12-4 advantage at 14:49 in the first half. The Gators shot 51.6 percent for the game (32-of-62), including 9-of-16 from 3-point range, and notched 18 assists on 32 field goals.

St. John's exhibition calendar concludes with a visit from the Humboldt State Lumberjacks on Monday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Carnesecca Arena. The game will air live nationally on ESPN3. Lavin announced in May that his squad will open its 2013-14 campaign at a neutral venue, taking on perennial Big Ten power No. 20/21 Wisconsin on Friday, Nov. 8 (7 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network) at the $19-million newly-opened Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

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