Harrison Shakes Off Pesky Pirates

With 2:45 left in the game, and St. John’s clinging to a 61-59 lead, Seton Hall leading scorer Fuquan Edwin lined up a wide-open three-pointer from just in front of his team’s bench to complete a 16-point comeback.

The shot bounced off the rim, however, and 20 seconds later, St. John’s star guard D’Angelo Harrison did what Edwin could not, burying a jumper to push the lead back to four and give the Red Storm the breathing space they needed to hold off the Pirates in their 71-67 win on Sunday.

Harrison, the Big East’s second-leading scorer, finished with 24 points — including 10 in the last four minutes — as the Johnnies (13-7, 5-3) moved into a tie with No. 13 Louisville for third place in the Big East.

“That’s just our captain stepping up,” freshman forward JaKarr Sampson said of Harrison’s late-game heroics. “The leader of our team, stepping up, doing what he does best — scoring the ball. We’re blessed to have him in that situation.”

There would have been no need for Harrison to step up, however, had St. John’s managed to avoid what’s proven to be its Achilles heel this season — blowing big leads.

The Johnnies appeared to be in cruise control after weathering an early hot-shooting run from Seton Hall (13-7, 2-5). The Pirates took a 29-21 lead after 10 minutes helped in part by a 12-of-17 start from the field and the inside play of center Eugene Teague (22 points, 9-of-14 shooting).

St. John’s responded to that with perhaps their best stretch of the season, outscoring the Pirates 30-6 over a 13-minute stretch to open up a 51-35 lead.

But just as they did against Notre Dame, DePaul and Rutgers, St. John’s let Seton Hall back into the game. The team missed 8 out of 9 shots at one point as the Pirates chipped away, closing the gap to as little as one with 4:22 left, and wore at the young Johnnies’ psyche.

“Our kids looked despondent,” Lavin said. “It was though we had just lost the game, or we were down 25, or down
26 to Georgetown.”

They weren’t down 25 or playing Georgetown, and just as they did against Notre Dame, Rutgers and DePaul, they pulled it out in the end.

“When Seton Hall went on a run and cut it to one, we went on a run of our own,” Lavin said. “That trend is emerging — finding a way to get the stops, make free throws and salt a victory away.”