Rapid Reaction: St. John's 72, USF 56
March, 5, 2011
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com
Recap | Box score
NEW YORK -- A quick take on St. John's 72-56 win over South Florida on Saturday night at Carnesecca Arena in Queens.
WHAT IT MEANS: On Senior Night, St. John's finished off what has been an impressive regular season at 20-10, and 12-6 in the Big East. The Red Storm finish tied for third in the conference with Louisville and Syracuse, but will be the No. 5 seed in the Big East tournament because they lost head-to-head against both. This is St. John's first 20-win season since 2002-03, and the first time it has collected 20 wins in the regular season since 1999-2000.
South Florida finishes the regular season at 9-22 overall, and 3-15 in the Big East. The Bulls will be the No. 15 seed in the conference tourney.
THE SKINNY: St. John's trailed for most of the first half; the Red Storm took the lead briefly late at 30-29 on a Dwight Hardy trey, but a Shaun Noriega rebuttal gave South Florida a 32-30 lead at intermission. St. John's had a difficult time attacking USF's 2-3 zone -- the Johnnies didn't shoot a single free throw in the first half.
The Johnnies attacked the zone more aggressively in the second half -- they were in the bonus with 13:48 remaining in the game, and were 18-25 from the foul line. The game remained tight through the first 10 minutes -- in fact, South Florida led 47-44 with 9:36 left. But St. John's eventually wore down USF and pulled away, propelled by timely treys by Hardy and Paris Horne.
SWEET EMOTION: The pregame ceremony honoring the nine St. John's senior players, along with four senior managers and former player Rob Thomas, was touching. Justin Burrell was the most emotional of the players, tearing up and slamming his fist to his chest as the crowd cheered him. A sold-out crowd of 5,602 chanted for each player as he was introduced, and chanted "Thank you, seniors!" at the end.
ONLY APPROPRIATE: This was one of St. John's most balanced efforts of the season offensively. Four players -- all seniors -- finished in double figures. D.J. Kennedy led the way with 16, Hardy had 14, Justin Brownlee had 13 and Horne had 11. Sean Evans added nine points, and Malik Boothe had five assists. St. John's is 10-0 this season when four or more players crack double figures.
WHAT'S NEXT: St. John's has a bye in the first round of the Big East tournament -- the Red Storm will play the winner of No. 12 seed Seton Hall versus No. 13 seed Rutgers on Wednesday afternoon at approximately 2:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden. South Florida will play No. 10 seed Villanova on Tuesday at 7 p.m.