- Kieran Darcy, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: St. John's defeated Ball State 78-73 in overtime Wednesday night/Thursday morning. The Red Storm are now 2-1 on the season, and advanced to the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout. Ball State dropped to 2-2 on the season.
BACK AND FORTH: This was a game of wild runs. It took St. John's almost seven minutes to score its first point of the game -- courtesy of a free throw by Sean Evans with 13:07 left to play in the first half. Yet once St. John's got on the board, it dominated the rest of the half, leading 34-22 at the break. But then Ball State stormed back to take a six-point lead late in the second half, 59-53, before St. John's rallied to tie the game and send it into overtime. And then the Red Storm ulimately prevailed in the extra session.
ACHILLES HEEL: Before the season began, first-year coach Steve Lavin pinpointed three areas that he wanted his team to improve on this season. One of them was foul shooting -- last season the Red Storm shot 65.2 percent from the charity stripe, which ranked them No. 289 in the nation. Well, St. John's was 16-for-30 from the foul line against Ball State -- 53.3 percent -- and it almost cost them the game.
GOOD CALL: Lavin also said before the season that senior forward Justin Brownlee was the player who had improved most from last season to this season. And Brownlee was excellent against Ball State, finishing with a team-high 20 points, to go along with eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
WHAT'S NEXT: After taking Thanksgiving Day off, St. John's will play Drake in the Great Alaska Shootout semifinals on Friday -- tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on MSG Plus. Ball State is headed for the consolation bracket.