NEW YORK -- A quick take on Fordham's 84-81 victory over St. John's in an absolute thriller Saturday night at Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx.
WHAT IT MEANS: St. John's falls to 5-3 on the season, and suffers its second straight excruciating defeat, after a 67-66 loss at home to St. Bonaventure on Tuesday. Steve Lavin's crew blew a 21-point second-half lead. This one will be very tough to get over.
Fordham improves to 5-4, after finishing 2-26 last season -- but this win means so much more than that. It's always huge for Fordham to upstage St. John's, but especially in front of a sellout home crowd, and in the first year under a new coach, Tom Pecora.
A TALE OF TWO RUNS: St. John's forced 12 Fordham turnovers in the first half, and took a 45-33 lead into intermission. The Red Storm extended that lead to 60-39 early in the second half, and appeared poised for a blowout victory. But the Rams soon rattled off a 16-0 run, cutting the lead to 62-58, and we suddenly had a ballgme again.
St. John's was able to open the lead back out to 12, 73-61 -- and again, you thought Fordham was cooked. But the Rams ran off 16 in a row -- again! -- taking a 77-73 lead, and then they finished it off for a huge upset.
SHARP SHOOTERS:Brenton Butler -- Fordham's leading scorer coming into the game -- played with four fouls the entire second half yet finished with a team-high 22 points. That includes making 5 of 9 from downtown. As a team, the Rams shot 12-for-23 from 3-point land, while the Red Storm were 4-for-20.
Dwight Hardy broke out of his shooting slump on Tuesday for St. John's, hitting 10 of 18 shots and scoring a career-high 24 points. Hardy was even better on Saturday, with 30 points on 12-for-18 shooting, in his home borough of the Bronx. But it came in a losing effort.
FINAL SCORE ASIDE: Rose Hill is small, but the fact that it was packed to the gills -- a full house of 3,200 -- and that tickets were even being scalped outside, is a great sign that college basketball is buzzing again in the Big Apple.
WHAT'S NEXT: St. John's has eight days off, before playing Davidson on Monday, Dec. 20 in the first round of the Holiday Festival at the Garden. Fordham is off even longer -- the Rams won't play again until Dec. 22, when they host Kennesaw State. So they'll have plenty of time to soak in this incredible victory.