Storm beats the Irish

There’s a buzz back in Madison Square Garden, and for the first time in a few years the St. John’s men’s basketball team has put themselves in a desirable position. In a grueling Big East conference that sees powerhouse UCONN with a 2-4 record, the Red Storm is situated in the middle of the pack at 3-4 after defeating nationally ranked Notre Dame on Tuesday by a score of 71-68.

Perhaps what’s even more surprising then the win is exactly how St. John’s went about getting it. With just five seconds left in the game and the score knotted at 68, head coach Norm Roberts looked to freshman Larry Wright, posting a career high 11 points, as the go-to guy.

“I’m not surprised coach had me take that shot,” Wright said, who claimed he never had a shot like that in high school. “It felt real good when it left (my hand.)”

Coming off an upset victory against Syracuse Saturday, whom, along with Notre Dame Roberts classified as two of the best four teams in the conference, St. John’s once again came out brimming with confidence.

“I think the win against Syracuse was a big confidence booster, and we realized what we should have been doing since the beginning of the season,” said team captain Eugene Lawrence.

The first five minutes were played evenly, but the Red Storm took a 10 point lead with 10 minutes remaining in the half. Both teams showed determination for every loose ball as bodies were falling everywhere.

“I think this is one of the hardest played games,” senior Lamont Hamilton said. “We had our eye on the ball and no matter how we got it we were going to get the ball.”

But it was St. John’s shooting the gave them the edge. St. John’s shot 59.3% from the field and 55.6% from behind the arch to score 49 points in the first half. However Notre Dame kept themselves in the game, posting 41 points in the first to keep the game within reach.

Notre Dame came out flying in the second half, going on an 11-0 run with all the points attributed to senior guard Russell Carter, who posted 32 points and five rebounds for the game. St. John’s was resilient and battled Notre Dame down to the winning shot by Wright. The Irish had a chance to tie at the buzzer, but the shot by Carter hit the back iron.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in (Wright) shooting the ball,” Roberts said.

Hamilton was a force for St. John’s in the first half, recording 22 points. Notre Dame seemed to solve him in the second half, keeping the senior center scoreless.

“I feel that we’re getting better,” Roberts said. “We need to continue to do things we’re doing now and we’ll have a chance to beat some teams.”