NEWARK, N.J. -- A quick take on St. John's 84-70 loss to Seton Hall on Thursday night at the Prudential Center, a hard-fought game marred by a St. John's emotional meltdown in the final two minutes (see below for more).
WHAT IT MEANS: St. John's (19-10, 11-6 Big East) has its six-game winning streak snapped. More importantly, the loss means the Red Storm will almost certainly have to win four games in four days next week in order to win the Big East tournament. If Syracuse beats last-place DePaul on Saturday at the Carrier Dome, the Orange will snatch the final Big East double-bye.
Seton Hall improves to 12-17 overall and 6-11 in the conference. After several close losses to ranked teams at home, the Pirates finally beat one of them -- their cross-river rival, no less.
THE SKINNY: St. John's jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, but Seton Hall was the better team for the rest of the first half, leading by as many as seven and 34-30 at the break. The Pirates had 11 first-half turnovers but compensated by shooting 7-for-11 from 3-point land.
The second half was a tight, back-and-forth affair, chock-full of fouls -- both teams were in the double-bonus very early. St. John's regained the lead, by as many as four, courtesy of a Justin Brownlee four-point play with 12:20 remaining. But Seton Hall surged back. The Pirates led 70-68 with just less than four minutes remaining. That's when Seton Hall raced out on an 11-0 run to salt the game away.
THE MELTDOWN: Both St. John's coach Steve Lavin and his players lost their composure in the final two minutes. First, after calling a timeout with 1:55 remaining and the Red Storm trailing 77-68, Lavin went after referee Joe Lindsay, who subsequently issued a double-technical and threw Lavin out of the game. Then, with 7.6 seconds remaining and the outcome no longer in doubt, Justin Burrell was whistled for a flagrant foul and thrown out of the game as well.
SHARP SHOOTERS: The teams' two leading scorers -- Dwight Hardy and Jeremy Hazell -- both put on a show, particularly during one stretch early in the second half when they were personally trading buckets. Hardy finished with 23 points. Hazell finished with a season-high 31.
BIG NUMBER: An old bugaboo reared its ugly head for St. John's on Thursday night -- defending the 3-point shot. Seton Hall, shooting just 28.4 percent from beyond the arc coming in (ranking the team No. 342 out of 346 Division I schools), connected on a remarkable 12-for-18 from downtown. Granted, a few of them were well-guarded and tough makes, but many of them were too open. St. John's really got hurt from behind the 3-point line in several losses earlier in the season, and it was the school's downfall again tonight.
WHAT'S NEXT: St. John's will host South Florida (9-21, 3-14) on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET at Carnesecca Arena. Seton Hall will host Marquette (18-12, 9-8) on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Prudential Center.