Rapid Reaction: St. John's 60, Pitt 59
February, 19, 2011
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com
Recap | Box score
NEW YORK -- A quick take on St. John's 60-59 win over No. 4 Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
WHAT IT MEANS: Thanks to Dwight Hardy's dramatic, acrobatic, last-second, underhand flip-in, St. John's improved to 17-9 overall and 9-5 in the Big East. The Red Storm beat a top-5 team for the second time this season and now have five wins over top-25 teams. And on Monday, St. John's will most likely be ranked in the top 25 in the nation for the first time since Nov. 28, 2000.
Pittsburgh falls to 24-3 and 12-2 in the Big East.
THE SKINNY: St. John's came out very strong in this one, opening up a 19-10 lead, despite its top two scorers -- Hardy and Justin Brownlee -- boh picking up two fouls within the first eight minutes and heading to the bench. (Hardy returned with 5:41 to go the first half.) But Pitt's switch to a 2-3 zone and the hot shooting of Ashton Gibbs (15 first-half points) enabled the Panthers to take a 27-26 halftime lead.
In the second half, Pitt led by as many as six, but St. John's fought all the way back, taking a 58-56 lead on two Hardy free throws with 27.6 seconds remaining. Then Pitt's Travon Woodall nailed a clutch 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining, putting Pitt back on top. Hardy won it for the Red Storm with an incredible reverse layup with two seconds left.
BIG MEN ON CAMPUS: Justin Burrell had a huge game off the bench for St. John's, with 15 points and eight rebounds. But Hardy was the biggest hero of them all, with 13 of his 19 points coming in the second half, including the game-winner. Hardy has now inserted himself in the discussion for Big East Player of the Year.
BIG STAT: Pitt came in No. 1 in the country in rebounding, outrebounding opponents by an average of 12.1 per game. St. John's, on the other hand, came in No. 304 in the country (out of 336 schools) in rebounds per game. But the Red Storm matched the Panthers on the boards, 31-31.
IN A LOSING EFFORT: Another All-Big East player, Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs, who had missed the team's past three games with an MCL injury to his left knee, had a career-high 26 points for the Panthers.
WHAT'S NEXT: St. John's will host DePaul on Wednesday at Carnesecca Arena. Pittsburgh will host West Virginia on Thursday.