Reax: UNC-Asheville 72, St. John's 65

December, 21, 2012
12/21/12
9:37
PM ET
What it means: What a disappointing way to finish nonconference play.

In its final game of 2012, St. John's was stunned by UNC-Asheville, 72-65, on Friday at Carnesecca Arena. The Red Storm blew a huge lead (see below) against a team that had never beaten a Big East squad before, and will now have to sit on this loss through the holidays.

St. John's ended up going 8-4 in November and December against a relatively weak schedule. Not terrible -- but this loss really stings. The Bulldogs improved to 5-7 on the year.

The turning point: St. John's opened this game fast, taking a double-figure lead less than midway through the first half. The Red Storm led by as many as 17, 38-21, but allowed UNC-Asheville to close to 40-30 at halftime.

The second half began in similar fashion, with St. John's scoring the first five points to push its lead back to 15. Then, UNC-Asheville came roaring back. Trailing 54-42, the Bulldogs went on a 23-4 run, taking a 65-58 lead with 4:32 left. St. John's scored seven straight points from there, tying the game at 65. But then UNC-Asheville's Keith Hornsby hit the biggest shot of the game -- a 3-pointer with 1:30 left and the shot clock winding down. St. John's didn't score again.

Star watch: D'Angelo Harrison entered the game scoring 20.6 points per game, which ranked him 13th in the country. He had 24 points on Friday. Jakarr Sampson added 17. Texas A&M transfer Jamal Branch had two points, two assists and four turnovers in 14 minutes in his St. John's debut.

Jeremy Atkinson, UNC-Asheville's leading scorer, went off for a career-high 31 points -- 23 of them coming in the second half.

Number crunch: St. John's was outrebounded 40-30, including 13-7 on the offensive glass. The Red Storm was outscored 44-28 in the paint, and 17-4 on second-chance points. All this against a team from the Big South.

What's next: St. John's next plays at Villanova on Wed., Jan. 2.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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