Senior forward Justin Brownlee scored six of his collegiate-best 21 points during a 13-5 second-half run, which helped the St. John's Red Storm beat the Northwestern Wildcats, 85-69, in the MSG Holiday Festival Tournament championship game Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
Despite Northwestern's junior forward John Shurna scoring a game-best 28 points, the Johnnies (7-3) used their transition offense and an athletic defense to hand the Wildcats (8-1) their first loss of the season.
St. John's, which trailed 40-37 at halftime, used an early second-half spurt to take a 50-45 lead.
That lead increased when the Red Storm shut down Shurna, who netted 19 points in the first half but did not score in the game's final 12:49, and St. John's senior forward Justin Burrell heated up.
Burrell came off the bench and netted 15 of his collegiate-best 17 points in the second half to help the Johnnies win running away.
Teammate Dwight Hardy added a team-best 24 points, which included five three-pointers.
In the game's first seven minutes, Northwestern sped out to a 23-13 lead, which was aided by a 12-0 run.
St. John's turned up the defense and crawled back into the game taking a 27-26 lead. D.J. Kennedy capped the go-ahead, 14-3 run with a 3-point bucket with 7:21 remaining in the half.
However, Shurna helped Northwestern take a three-point halftime advantage by scoring 10 of the Wildcats' last 14-first half points.
The Red Storm will not play until Dec. 28 when they travel to the West Virginia Mountaineers to begin their Big East Conference schedule.