Dwight Hardy netted 21 of his collegiate-best 34 points in the second half to lift the visiting St. John's Red Storm (No. 23 in the AP poll and No. 25 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll) past the No. 14 Villanova Wildcats, 81-68, in a Big East Conference contest at The Pavilion. The Red Storm (19-9, 11-5 Big East) used 10 3-pointers, five from Hardy, to collects their sixth straight victory. 'Nova (21-8, 9-7) had its six-game winning streak against St. John's snapped.
The victory also keeps the Red Storm, who currently are in third place in the Big East standings, in the hunt for a two-round bye in the upcoming 16-team Big East Tournament, March 8-12. The top-four conference teams earn a two-round bye, the next four get a one-round bye, while the rest of the eight teams play first-round games Tuesday, March 8. Currently, St. John's is ahead of the Louisville Cardinals, who are a half game behind the Johnnies and play first-place Pittsburgh Panthers Sunday (2 p.m. on CBS); and the Syracuse Orange, who beat St. John's earlier in the year and own the matchup's head-to-head tiebreaker.
St. John's, which led 41-36 at halftime, held off a feisty 'Nova squad that tied the game at 65 with 4:00 remaining in the game. However, the Red Storm scored 16 of the contest's final 19 points to keep their winning streak intact. Senior guard Paris Horne netted 11 of his 12 points in the first half. Senior forward D.J Kennedy collected his fourth double-double (12 points and 14 rebounds) of the season. Senior forward Justin Brownlee finished with 11 points.
Senior guard Corey Stokes scored a team-best 20 points, including six 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Maalik Wayns chipped in with 19 points. Senior guard Corey Fisher had a terrible shooting night, 1-of-10 from the floor and 0 for 7 from behind the 3-point arc.
Statically, St. John's shot 24-of-53 (45.3 percent) from the floor and 10-of-22 (45.5) from 3-point land. 'Nova finished 22-of-55 (40.0) on field goals and 9-of-28 (32.1) on 3-pointers. St. John's outrebound 'Nova, 37-23.
The St. John's basketball schedule features the Red Storm at the Seton Hall Pirates Thursday night (7 p.m.), and then concluding regular-season play next Saturday against visiting South Florida Bulls (8 p.m.).
Senior guard Dwight Hardy has a game-best 13 points to help the St. John's Red Storm (No. 23 in the AP poll and No. 25 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll) earn a 41-36 hafltime lead over the No. 14 Villanova Wildcats in a Big East Conference game in Philadelphia, PA. St. John's made eight 3-pointers, including three from Hardy and senior guard Paris Horne, who has 11 points.
In the game's first seven minutes, St. John's (18-9, 10-5 Big East) jumped out to a quick 20-7, which included two 3-pointers by Hardy. However, the Red Storm cooled down and the Wildcats were able to shrink the disadvantage to five points heading into the locker room. Senior guard Corey Stokes has a team-best 11 points for 'Nova, which has lost three of its last five contest.
Statistically, St. John's is 14-of-28from the floor (50.0 percent) and 8-of-17 on 3-pointers. Senior forward D.J. Kennedy has chipped with 5 points and 6 rebounds. Villanova is `13-of-31 from the floor (41.9) and 5-of-15 (33.3) on 3-pointers. The Red Storm have outrebouned 'Nova, 17-11.
The St. John's basketball program (No. 23 in the AP poll and No. 25 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll) will try to continue an unprecedented Big East Conference winning streak Saturday afternoon at the No. 15/14 Villanova Wildcats in Philadelphia, PA (2 p.m. on ESPN). The Red Storm (18-9, 10-5 Big East) are currently riding a five-game conference winning streak and sit in a tie for fourth place in the Big East standings with the Louisville Cardinals. The top-four teams in the conference earn a two-round bye in the upcoming 16-team Big East Tournament, March 8-12. The next four teams earn a one-round bye, while the rest of the remaining eight squads play first-round contests on Tuesday, March 8.
The performance of senior point guard Dwight Hardy, who Monday earned his second straight Big East Player Of The Week honor, his third of the year, is the main reason for the Red Storm's resurgence. During the last five games, Hardy has averaged 23.8 points per game, including a last-second 2-point bucket that beat No. 6/4 Pittsburgh Panthers last Saturday. Hardy netted a game-best 21 points in a 76-51 victory over the DePaul Blue Demons Wednesday night.
St. John's is also led by a number of complementary players. Senior forward Justin Brownlee is the team's second-best scorer (12.1 ppg), while senior forward D.J. Kennedy is the top rebounder (5.7 rebounds per game) and senior guard Malik Boothe is averaging a team-best 2.9 assists per game.
The Red Storm play two more games after Saturday. Next Thursday, St. John's travels to the Seton Hall Pirates (7 p.m.) and then close out its regular season next Saturday, March 5, by hosting the South Floirda Bulls (8 p.m.).
For the Wildcats (21-7, 9-6), they're currently tied for sixth place in the standings with the Cincinnati Bearcats, but need a win Saturday because next week 'Nova finishes its regular season with two brutal road games (No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Monday, and Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 5).
On Monday, 'Nova lost to the visiting Syracuse Orange, 69-64. It was the third floss for the Wildcats in their last five games. Senior guard Corey Stokes, the team's second-best scorer, netted a game-best 24 points, including five 3-pointers.
Senior point guard Corey Fisher, who is a finalist for The Bob Cousy Award, is 'Nova's top scorer (16.0 ppg) and passer (5.0 apg). Currently, the Wildcats are ranked sixth in the conference in scoring (73.4 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (38.9 per game).