Hatten’s 34 Spark OT Win

Marcus Hatten knew that he couldn’t have a repeat performance of his last outing against Connecticut, when he was held scoreless over the first 31 minutes and finished with 16 points.

So what did he do in the rematch?

Hatten scored the first basket of the game just 25 seconds in and made a free throw with 11 seconds left in overtime to cap his best performance of the season as St. John’s held on to defeat UConn, 85-83 on Feb. 9.

“Every game we play with Connecticut is a hell of a game,” St. John’s Head Coach Mike Jarvis said.

The junior college transfer not only set a career-high by dropping 34 points on the Huskies, he also set a Big East record, hitting 21 free throws out of 25 attempts. “I didn’t know it was that many,” Hatten said. “As long as I keep making them, I’ll keep taking them.”

Hatten’s five points and two key putbacks by Eric King in overtime were enough for the Red Storm to hold on in front of a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden.

Hatten, who shot six of 26 from the field, made four shots from the charity stripe after UConn Head Coach Jim Calhoun was given two technical fouls and ejected from the game with five minutes remaining in the first half. Donald Emanuel followed with two free throws of his own, and pushed the lead to 11 at 33-22.

The Johnnies took a five-point lead into halftime despite the stellar shooting by Huskie freshman Ben Gordon. Gordon had 15 points in the first half, including three three-pointers.

UConn took advantage of the Johnnies’ second-half shooting woes to get back into the game. SJU shot 29 percent in the second half, and missed 12 free throw attempts. “If we had made our free throws,” Jarvis said, “we would have won by double digits.”

With 15 seconds remaining in regulation Anthony Glover missed two free throws leaving the Red Storm clinging to a three-point lead, Caron Bulter had a chance to send the game to overtime after he was fouled by Emanuel on a three-point shot.

“I think one of the reasons why we won is because Donald Emanuel didn’t deserve to leave here thinking he was responsible for us losing,” said Jarvis. “If we were going to lose, I’d rather lose with a guy trying to do something, which Donald did.”

Last season at Connecticut, Butler hit a wide-open three to send the game into overtime, a game the Huskies eventually won.

Butler calmly sank all three shots, and Hatten’s twisting jumper in the lane as time expired rolled off the rim, giving UConn a second chance.

But Hatten and King took control in overtime, and when Kyle Cuffe stole a rebound and Sharif Fordham scored on the ensuing offensive series, the Johnnies escaped with a much-needed win.

“Everybody thinks that we’re underdogs,” Emanuel said. “I really believe that half the people in here thought we were going to lose.”

This was the 50th meeting between the two schools, and St. John’s left Madison Square Garden commanding 32-18 series lead.