A late 9-0 run rallied St. John’s from a two-point deficit, lifting it to a 71-65 victory over UConn Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
STAR OF THE GAME: St. John’s freshman JaKarr Sampson picked up his fourth personal foul with 12:44 remaining, but St. John’s coach Steve Lavin elected to leave him in the game. He totaled 18 points and six rebounds, and was finally whistled for his fifth with 15 ticks left.
KEY TO THE LOSS: UConn survived an anemic first half against South Florida. It couldn’t do the same Wednesday. An 8-for-34 performance in the opening period ultimately doomed the Huskies.
*The dynamic backcourt duo of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright combined to shoot 0-for-9 from the floor for zero points in the first half. Niels Giffey was 0-for-5, as well. Napier didn’t convert his first field goal — an open 3-pointer on the right wing — until 14:21 remained. He quickly canned two more, cutting the deficit to 40-36 with 11:49 left.
*Boatright, who sat for most of the second half, hit a long 3-pointer and then two free throws (his first points of the game) to give UConn its first lead, 53-51, at the 4:28 mark.
*An alley-oop from D’Angelo Harrison to Christian Jones put St. John’s ahead 24-9 with 6:17 left in the first half. UConn cut the lead to eight, but it ballooned back to 15 on a Sampson layup with 16:15 remaining.
*Chris Obekpa, the nation’s leading shotblocker, fouled out with 5:38 remaining. He left with six points and two blocks.
*St. John’s guard D’Angelo Harrison, who averages 18.3 points per contest, was held to 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting, but hit two big shots down the stretch — a 3-pointer and a short jumper — to preserve the Red Storm lead.