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.).