The St. John's Red Storm escaped Cincinnati with a 59-57 victory Sunday afternoon in a Big East Conference game at the Fifth Third Arena. Senior guard Dwight Hardy netted a game-best 18 points for St. John's, which let a 12-point second-half lead slip away. However, in the final minutes, the Red Storm (15-9, 7-5 Big East) pulled out their fourth victory in five games, while the Bearcats (19-6, 6-6) have lost three of four.
Trailing 57-54 with 1:27 remaining in the game, St. John's used the free-throw line to come back. Senior forward Justin Burrell, a 61 percent shooter from the charity stripe, knocked down both of his attempts to close the disadvantage to 57-56 with 1:18 to play. Then the Johnnies defense held tough.
On the next Cincinnati possession, the Bearcats missed a chance to extend their lead. St. John's responded with senior guard Malik Boothe making both of his free-throw attempts -- he was fouled during a loose-ball scramble -- to take a 58-57 lead. Cincinnati had an attempt to regain the lead but missed. Red Storm senior forward Justin Brownlee, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, answered by making the front-end of his 1-and-1, pushing the margin to 59-57 with 3.5 seconds to go. Brownlee's second attempt was too strong, Cincinnati collected the rebound but freshman guard Sean Kilpatrick's desperation, half-court 3-pointer went long. Kilpatrick finished with a team-best 15 points. Teammate Dion Dixon, added 12 points.
St. John's, which led 35-30 at the half, used a 10-3 run to increase its margin to 45-33 with 15:26 to play. The Johnnies led 52-40 with 8:57 to go, but Cincy charged with a 16-1 run to earn a 56-53 advantage with 3:20 remaining. St. John's somehow righted its wondering ship and sailed away with a victory.
Cincinnati finished the contest 11-of-30 (36.7 percent) from behind the 3-point line and 19-of-53 (35.8) from the floor. St. John's went 23-of-46 (50.0) on field goals and 4-of-10 (40.0) from 3-point land.
The St. John's basketball schedule features the Red Storm visiting the Marquette Golden Eagles Tuesday night (9 p.m.). The Johnnies then host the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday (noon).
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