After five consecutive losses the Red Storm finished strong.
St. John's scored nine of the final 13 points recorded in a 70 to 65 victory over the Seton Hall Pirates at a sold out Carnessecca Arena. "You always want to finish the half off well and start halves off good," said head coach Norm Roberts. "We really did a good job of finishing off well. We got some good stops and moved the basketball and got some good shots."
The Johnnies, who lost to the Pirates earlier this month, responded to every Seton Hall run on Sunday. Trailing 37 to 31 with just over four minutes left to play in the first half the Red Storm closed out the half with an 11-0 run and lead by five at halftime. Justin Burrell who was not in the starting lineup due to senior Tomas Jasiulonas receiving the start on Senior Day scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half to lead St. John's.
The Johnnies focused on not allowing Seton Hall guard and Brooklyn native Eugene Harvey to get going in the first half. Harvey torched the Johnnies for 20 points in the first meeting between the two teams this season. However, Malik Boothe held the Seton Hall guard to a scoreless 0-for-3 shooting performance. "I didn't want him to get in that comfort zone," Boothe said of his defense on Harvey.
Boothe and his teammates held the Pirates scoreless for the final four minutes of the first half and came out with the same defensive intensity in the second half as they jumped out to a ten point lead. However, after holding a 51 to 41 early in the second half, the Pirates would outscore the Johnnies 20 to 10 over the next 14 minutes to tie the game. St. Johns would once again respond as D.J. Kennedy (game-high 21 points), Sean Evans and Paris Horne stepped up offensively to seal the win
The Pirates had a chance to tie the game with 10.5 seconds left to play. Boothe intentionally tried to foul Harvey before the Seton Hall guard had a chance to get off a three point attempt. However, no foul was called as the Johnnies secured the rebound and Kennedy calmly knocked down two free throws to give St. Johns (13-14) their fourth Big East victory. . "Coach gave us the option. I was trying to foul but I guess the refs didn't think it was a foul," said Boothe.
Foul or no foul called the Johnnies recorded a much need victory at home. Coach Roberts called the win over Seton Hall a "real team win" and was proud of the effort of his players. "We knew that they could make tough shots but we just stayed patient," Roberts stated. "We ran the plays we needed and we played strong.
The Johnnies will look to continue their strong play and hope to start a winning streak on Tuesday at the Garden against Syracuse.
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