Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
The St. John’s Red Storm (13-7, 5-3) returned home to Madison Square Garden to face the Seton Hall Pirates (13-7, 2-5,) as the Storm looked to extend their win streak to four straight games.
While St. John’s was looking to extend their overall win streak to four in a row, Seton Hall was looking to extend their record over the Storm to 4-0 in their last four games.
Both teams go off to quick starts, with the Pirates leading 12-11 after the first 5 minutes. D’Angelo Harrison and JaKarr Sampson scored all 11 of the Red Storm points.
“Everyone comes out energetic and we are playing in The Garden today, so players are making shots.” Sampson said after the game. “We don’t let [the opponent having] a lead get us down.”
Seton Hall was able to extend their lead over St. John’s thanks to 5-6 shooting from beyond the arc. That three point shooting gave the Pirates a 27-19 lead with 10 to go in the half.
D’Angelo Harrison responded with his second three pointer of the game to get St. John’s within five, at 29-24. Following his three, Harrison managed a huge block on the Pirates, helping the Storm keep it close.
Neither team found the bottom of the bucket for the next three minutes, Until Sir’Dom Pointer hit a free throw with 6 minutes remaining in the first.
Sampson got the Storm within two, but Seton Hall came back the other way for their first points in five minutes. Harrison got St. John’s back within two, and with 3 to play they trailed 31-29.
St. John’s finally knotted the score for the first time since tipoff at 31 all following a Phil Greene basket. The bucket was part of a 17-4 for the Storm to end the half.
Chris Obekpa then had an incredible block that sent the ball to midcourt. The Storm grabbed possession of the block and with a minute left in the first, they took the lead 33-31.
Harrison finished the half with a buzzer beating three, giving St. John’s a 38-33 advantage after the games first 20 minutes. Harrison would also be the leading scorer of the half, with 13 points. Sampson was right behind him with 12 points of his own.
The Red Storm kept the attack going out of the half, with Sampson slamming down a one handed dunk and Pointer knocking down a bank shot. The lead continued to grow, and 2 minutes in St. John’s led 44-33.
Aaron Geramipoor finally got the Pirates on the board in the second, but Sampson came right back down the other way to match the basket.
Pointer would block Geramipoor on the next Seton Hall possession. He then came right down the other way to hit a three that would give the Red Storm a 49-35 edge 4 minutes into the second.
The Pirates would finally get on a little run of their own following an Obekpa goaltending call. Their 7-0 streak was ended however with 12 to go, with St. John’s holding on to a 55-44 lead.
Seton Hall continued to go on a run until Jamal Branch laid himself out on the floor for a steal and then threw it over to Obekpa who took it down the floor for a dunk. The hustle play was not enough to put the momentum back in favor of the Storm, and with 8 in the game they led 58-50.
Harrison began to struggle from the field for the Storm, allowing the Pirates to go a 9-0 run to get the game within one. As the clock wound down to the last 4 minutes, St. John’s led just 60-59.
After Harrison hit one of two free throws, the Storm finally ended the Seton Hall run. He then hit a deep jump shot on the next St. John’s possession to give the Storm a 63-59 advantage with 2 in the game.
Thanks to 8 points late by Harrison, St. John’s was able to hold on and defeat Seton Hall, 71-67. Harrison would finish the day with 24 points and 7 rebounds, leading the Storm to their fourth straight victory.
JaKarr Sampson would also have a big day, finishing with 19 points. Chris Obekpa contributed 4 blocks while also chipping in 4 points.
“What I was most proud of was how we found a way, after Seton Hall went on a run, to go on a run of our own.” Coach Steve Lavin said. “We are trending in the right direction; and with that being said, these kids are very humble and realize we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
St. John’s will look for win number five in a row as they head to Carnesecca Arena January 30 to host the DePaul Blue Demons