Dwight Hardy Beats Buzzer As Red Storm Upsets No. 4 Pittsburgh, 60-59

-- SB Nation's Rumble In The Garden previews the contest at MSG, also asks Cardiac Hill five questions. -- SB Nation New York's Howard Megdal previews the rest of the action in the Big East on Saturday.

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St. John's Basketball Score And Reaction: Red Storm Punch Ticket To Top 25 Ranking And NCAA Tournament

Do you have your dancing shoes on St. John’s basketball fans? Because come Monday, when the latest college basketball polls are posted, and until the beginning of March, when your programs name shows up on the CBS NCAA Tournament Selection Show, you’ll be dancing, a lot.

It has been 11 seasons (Nov. of 2000 to be precise) since the St. John’s faithful witnessed their team ranked in the Top 25. That streak will come to an end because on Saturday, the Red Storm (17-9, 9-5 Big East) upset the fourth-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers, 60-59, in a Big East Conference game at Madison Square Garden. The victory, which was St. John’s sixth during a seven-game span, also probably punched the Johnnies ticket to the NCAA Tournament, a postseason event the program hasn’t been a part of since 2002.

Again, senior guard Dwight Hardy came to the rescue. Hardy, who scored a team-best 19 points, netted the game-winning basket with 1.2 second to play. St. John’s trailed 56-53 with less than a minute remaining, but Hardy and the Red Storm pulled out another dramatic victory.

On Wednesday, I wrote that St. John’s was a Top 5 Big East team. For those of you who didn’t believe me then, do you believe me now?

In less than 30 days, St. John's (despite its ranking) has beaten No. 5 Duke Blue Devils, the Connecticut Huskies (No. 13 in the AP poll and No. 12 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll) and now the Big East’s first place team, Pittsburgh. St. John’s has done everything asked of it to earn a Top 25 ranking. Currently, the Red Storm are TIED FOR THIRD in the Big East standings. The Johnnies also have beat the second place Notre Dame Fighting Irish and now — did I mention this? — first-place Pitt.

Do you have your dancing shoes on St. John’s fans? If not, get them out of the closet because you have a lot of jiving to do. Enjoy it.


St. John's Vs. Pittsburgh Final Score: Dwight Hardy Beats Buzzer As Red Storm Upsets No. 4 Panthers, 60-59

Senior guard Dwight Hardy has been making a name for himself in the month of February and Saturday afternoon was no different. Hardy netted a team-best 19 points, including a game-winning reverse layup with 1.2 seconds remaining to propel the St. John's basketball program over No. 4 Pittsburgh Panthers, 60-59, at Madison Square Garden. Pitt becomes the fourth Top 10 team to lose to St. John's at MSG this season. The victory will probably vault the Red Storm (17-9, 9-5 Big East), winners of six of their last seven games, to their first Top 25 ranking since Nov. of 2000.

Hardy, who averaged 27.8 points in the Johnnies last four games, was held to just six points in the first half. However, Hardy scored 13 in the second half and placed the Johnnies, who trailed 56-53 with less than two minutes to play, on his back with less than a minute remaining.

Hardy converted three of four free-throws attempts to help St. John's earn a 58-56 lead with 27.6 seconds to go. After Hardy's final free throw, Pitt answered with sophomore guard Travon Woodall nailing a 3-pointer with 11.3 seconds remaining to take a 59-58 advantage. Then, on the game's final possession, Hardy drove baseline, shimmed his way past the Pitt defender, tip-toed the end line and made an up-and-under layup with 1.3 seconds to play. Pitt's desperation, full-court 3-pointer fell well short and St. John's celebrated.

"He's the Big East Player Of The Year," said St. John's head coach Steve Lavin after the game. "It's not even close. It's really a runaway at this point... He's Frank Sinatra tonight"

Hardy placed a lot of the credit on the crowd at MSG.

"I want to thank our fans. They come out every time we play and help support us with all they've got," said Hardy. 'They give us a extra boost of energy tonight," said Hardy. "We just want to come out in the world's most famous arena and play our butts off. We've been doing it so far. We just want to keep it up in the Big East Tournament."

Senior forward Justin Burrell, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, was St. John's most consistent player. Senior guard D.J. Kennedy added 11 points and eight rebounds. The Johnnies second-best scorer, senior forward Justin Brownlee, chipped in six points, but netted a few important second-half buckets -- a 3-ball that tied the score at 33 and then a 2-point jumper which gave St. John's a 41-40 lead with 11:20 to go.

St. John's finished 17-of-40 (42.5 percent) from the field and 3-of-7 from behind the 3-point arc. The Red Storm had 10 first-half turnovers, but just three in the final 20 minutes.

For Pittsburgh, junior guard Ashton Gibbs netted a collegiate-best 26 points, including eight 3-pointers. Pitt shot 21 for 45 on field goals (45.7) and 7 for 18 (38.9) from 3-point land. The Big East's best rebounding team had just 28, the same amount as the Red Storm.

The St. John's basketball schedule features the Red Storm hosting the DePaul Blue Demons Wednesday night (7 p.m.). Next Saturday, St. John's is at the Villanova Wildcats (2 p.m.). The Johnnies will finish regular season play at Seton Hall Pirates, March 3, and hosting the South Florida Bulls, March 5.


St. John's Vs. Pittsburgh Halftime Score: No. 4 Panthers Collect Slim 27-26 Lead

Junior guard Ashton Gibbs has scored a game-best 15 points for the No. 4 Pittsburgh Panthers, who lead the St. John's Red Storm, 27-26, at halftime of a Big East Conference game at Madison Square Garden. Gibbs netted Pitt's last seven points of the first half, which included four free throw that stemmed from Red Storm technical fouls. Senior forward Justin Burrell has a team-best eight points for the Johnnies (16-9, 8-5 Big East).

St. John's, which led by as much as nine points, made its first eight of 11 shots to take a 19-12 advantage with 7:43 to play in the half. The Red Storm led 26-23 with 1:23 to go, but head coach Steve Lavin and senior guard D.J. Kennedy were each called for technical fouls less than a minute apart. Pitt (24-2, 12-1) used a 3-pointer and four FTs from Gibbs to take a slim one-point margin into the locker room.

Statistically, St. John's finished 9 for 19 (47.4 percent) from the floor and 2 for 3 from 3-point land. Pitt is 9-of-23 (39.1) on field goals and just 3-of-8 from behind the 3-point arc. St. John's leads in the rebound category, 17-12, but have committed 10 turnovers to Pitt's eight.

St. John's senior point guard Dwight Hardy has just six points after averaging 27.8 point in the last four games.


St. John's Vs. Pittsburgh: Red Storm Host No. 4 Panthers At MSG

There's a trend being set by the St. John's basketball program, winning. That's something Red Storm fans are just starting to get used to and a Big East Conference victory over No. 4 Pittsburgh Panthers Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden (noon on ESPN) would solidify that their men's college hoops team is for real.

St. John's (16-9, 8-5) has won six of its last eight games, including victories over No. 5 Duke Blue Devils, Jan. 30, and the Connecticut Huskies (No. 12 in the AP poll and No. 13 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll). Pittsburgh (24-2, 12-1), winners of fight straight, has been the most flawless squad in the Big East. Currently, the Panthers have a two-game advantage over second place Notre Dame Fighting Irish (21-4, 10-3) in the league standings .

In St. John's last four games, senior point guard Dwight Hard has averaged 27.8 points per game. Hardy, who earned his second Big East Player Of The Week honor on Monday, is quickly becoming a Big East Player Of The Year candidate for the Red Storm, who are looking to crack the Top 25 rankings for the first time since 2000. Last week, St. John's earned a few votes in both the AP poll and USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, but didn't crack the Top 25. A victory Saturday against another Top 5 team should solidify St. John's place in next Monday's polls.

The Panthers only conference loss came against Notre Dame, Jan. 24. Before that stumble, Pittsburgh had strung together nine consecutive victories and were ranked No. 2 in the nation by both polls -- the Panthers first loss of the season came against the Tennessee Volunteers, Dec. 11.

As of Saturday, Pittsburgh is first in the conference in rebounds per game (41.3), third in field goal percentage (.525) and fourth in ppg (76.2). Junior guard Ashton Gibbs is the team's leading scorer with 16.3 ppg and best 3-point shooter (.463 percent). Teammate senior guard Brad Wanamaker is the second-best scorer (12.6 ppg), while senior center Gary McGhee is Pitt's inside presence (8 rebounds and 22.5 minutes per game).

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