Storm uses ‘A.P.’ Style
Avery Patterson describes himself as a shooter. For most of the St. John’s 64-60 victory over Syracuse, he didn’t look much like one, but when it was most important, Patterson did what he does best.
With only 1:28 left on the clock and St. John’s trailing by one, Patterson hit a long three-pointer while getting fouled. The shot was good, the crowd erupted, and Patterson went to the foul line to complete the four-point play.
He put the Johnnies (11-4, 2-8 Big East) up by three at 61-58, but he was still far from done. Just before the one-minute mark, he locked things up for St. John’s with another three-pointer that buried any hope for a Syracuse (15-5, 4-2) comeback.
“My teammates just kept telling me to shoot the ball,” Patterson said. “Mase (Anthony Mason, Jr.) said ‘it’ll fall, it’ll fall’ and it fell.”
Despite the strong finish, Patterson did not get off to a strong start. Starting the game, Mason led the Red Storm, sinking two three-point shots and a layup in the first two minutes. With contributions from Eugene Lawrence and Qa’raan Calhoun, St. John’s opened with a commanding 13-2 lead.
After having lost their previous four games, Mason thought the team came in more focused and prepared.
“The urgency was there,” the sophomore forward said. “We came in more pepped up and enthusiastic. We practiced real hard and came in ready for this game.”
Syracuse proceeded to take some of the momentum back with a 9-1 run, thanks in large part to Terrence Roberts who scored seven of the points. Syracuse continued to play catch-up until 2:37 in the first half when Paul Harris tied it up with a couple of foul shots and Roberts gave the Orange a 28-26 lead with a huge dunk at 1:41.
Just before halftime, Tomas Jasiulionis tipped a ball in to give St. John’s a one-point lead.
Calhoun opened up the second half with two layups to give the Johnnies a little more breathing room. They were able to fight to a 44-39 lead before the Orange turned it up. Eric Devendorf hit his first three-pointer and there was plenty more to come from the sophomore guard. Eighteen of Syracuse’s remaining 24 points came from his shots, which included four three-pointers.
At 5:01, Devendorf earned Syracuse the lead at 52-51 with a three-point shot and followed that up with another to make it 55-53. Mason sunk a three of his own and set the stage for Patterson’s late-game heroics.
“A.P. (Patterson) made some key plays to make sure we won,” said team captain Lawrence. “That’s what key players do.”
After getting their final few points, St. John’s ran down the clock as the crowd cheered and part of the student section rushed down to the court.
Daryll Hill missed the game because of soreness in his left knee and is likely out for the next game against Notre Dame as well. Mason (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Lamont Hamilton (10 points, 12 rebounds) both finished with double-doubles.
Lawrence and Calhoun both contributed with another 10 points apiece. For Syracuse, Devendorf led the game with a career-high 23 points.
“Our guys really competed throughout the whole game,” said coach Norm Roberts. “We played with a lot of toughness and pride.”
Roberts revealed after the game that he had engaged in a two-a-day practice and gave the team a speech before the match. When asked about his tone, he described it simply as “strong.”
Whatever he said to them, it broke the four-game losing streak and sinking confidence.
“I hope it refocuses us,” Roberts said. “We have to build from this game and bring it again on Tuesday.”