Pirates ‘storm’ St. John’s
The Pirates used a late decisive run to defeat the 15th ranked St. John’s Red Storm on Thursday by a score of 84-70. The win improves the Pirates to 12-17 and 6-11 in Big East play, while St. John’s drops to 19-10, 11-6 and the Big East.
Hardy started off the second half with a driving layup to cut the Pirate’s lead to two. Jeremy Hazell responded with a 3-point play off a mid-range jumper to give the Pirates a five point lead with 19:15 to play. Hazell led all scorers with 31 points. “He’s done an unbelievable job to build this program, and it will be tough to see him go,” said head coach Kevin Willard said of Hazell, who will play his last game at the Prudential Center on Saturday against Marquette. The teams traded baskets until two free throws from Justin Brownlee at the 12:45 mark tied the game at 49-all. Brownlee was then fouled on a successful 3-pointer and gave the Red Storm a four point lead. The game remained close throughout the middle portion of the second half, and after the Red Strom cut the lead to one, Fuquan Edwin hit a wide-open three pointer from the corner that gave the Pirates a four point advantage with 4 minutes remaining. Edwin had 19 points, good for second on the Pirates.
Willard said Edwin has had a bit of a roller coaster season and said “the guys have a lot of confidence in him.”
Edwin then hit another three, and after a Jordan Theodore layup and a steal-turned layup by Edwin, the Pirates grabbed a 77-68 lead. This prompted two technical fouls called on Red Storm coach Steve Lavin, which lead to his ejection from the game. The Pirates made their free throws down the stretch en route to the win.
Brownlee was also ejected from the game after committing a flagrant foul on Pirate freshman Anali Okoloji on a breakaway in the final minute. Brownlee finished with 12 points before his ejection.
The Pirates ended up shooting over 60 percent from the floor and from beyond the three point line. “We really played smart tonight,” Willard said.
The Pirates started out sloppily in the first half, with three straight turnovers for the Pirate’s offense within the first forty seconds of play prompting head coach Kevin Willard to call a timeout.
St. John’s opened the scoring with a layup by senior Dwight Hardy off an inbounds pass, and the Red Storm then jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the strength of a three-pointer by Hardy. Hardy finished with a team-high 23 points.
The Pirates responded with a 5-0 run of their own, highlighted by a Jordan Theodore 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
Another Theodore three-pointer cut the lead to one, and after a St. John’s three, Herb Pope scored on an alley-oop from Edwin to cut the lead to 16-14 at the ten minute mark of the first half.
Shortly thereafter, Edwin nailed a three from the top of the arc to give the Pirates a one point lead.
After the Red Storm pulled within one, the Pirates hit back-to-back three point baskets from Hazell and Edwin to grab a 31-24 lead, and were able to take a 34-30 lead into the locker room.
In the first half, the Pirates were led by Hazell, who scored 12 points, and Theodore, who chipped in 10 of his own. Theodore finished with 14 points on the night.
The Pirates shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half, including 63 percent from beyond the arc. However, they had 11 turnovers and shot below 40 percent from the free-throw line.
St. John’s was paced by Hardy, who scored 10 first half points. The Red Storm shot 42 percent from the floor and made 2 three pointers.
The Pirates won the rebounding battle in the first half, grabbing 15 as compared to St. John’s 13. Pope led the way individually with 4.
The Pirates will be back in action on Saturday for Senior Night against Marquette. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
David Rind can be reached at email@example.com