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St. John's takes down No. 4 Pitt at MSG

Feb 20, 2011 - 12:56 AM New York, NY (Sports Network) - St. John's is quickly becoming a giant killer, especially at Madison Square Garden, as Dwight Hardy got a tough baseline layup to fall with 1.2 seconds remaining to lift the Red Storm to an exciting 60-59 victory over No. 4 Pittsburgh.

The Panthers led 56-51 late in the game before going three minutes without scoring. Seven straight points from St. John's -- all coming from the free throw line -- gave the hosts the lead before Travon Woodall hit a go-ahead, NBA-range three-pointer with 14 seconds remaining.

After a timeout, St. John's isolated Hardy on the right side. Gilbert Brown played terrific defense on the guard and nearly forced him out of bounds under the basket. However, Hardy, who finished with 19 points, maneuvered his way into the lane and got an underhand finger-roll to fall, leaving no time for Pitt to get a good shot off at the other end.

The win was the Red Storm's (17-9, 9-5 Big East) fourth straight overall and fourth this season over a top-10 opponent. They will likely move into the Top-25 next week for the first time since the 2000-01 season.

"This is Madison Square Garden, you got this place electrified, you are playing with your best friends and playing the No. 4 team in the country, this is fun," said St. John's head coach Steve Lavin. "I do not care, it is not about winning, losing or getting the bucket; it is about enjoying this moment and playing with passion and use everything we have to enjoy this gift. The focus was more about that than strategy."

Ashton Gibbs returned from a three-game absence due to an MCL injury and carried the Panthers (24-3, 12-2) with 26 points, though it wasn't enough to extend a five-game winning streak.

"This is one of the toughest losses," said Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon. "I am proud of how we played and how we handled things and executed the last play; we got the open look and Travon (Woodall) made a great shot. We put ourselves in a good position. We did a lot of good things, thought we could have done some things better."

The tight contest was no more than a two-possession game the entire second half. With just under 3 1/2 minutes remaining, Pitt went on top, 56-51, on a jumper from Brad Wanamaker, whose missed three-pointer the next time down preceded two straight turnovers amid the Red Storm's free throw barrage.

Hardy went to the line with 48.3 seconds showing and hit the first free throw to tie the game, 56-56, before missing the second. Paris Horne came down with a huge offensive rebound, and Hardy was fouled again trying to split two defenders at the top of the key.

Following Hardy's two makes, Woodall's three gave the Panthers a lead they squandered just seconds later.

St. John's scored seven straight points to take a 10-3 lead early on, but Gibbs helped the Panthers slowly chip away. His two free throws in the final minute -- coming off a technical foul on D.J. Kennedy -- gave him 15 points for the half and Pittsburgh a slim 27-26 edge at the break.

Game Notes

Pitt still leads the Big East, while St. John's remained in a tie for third...Pitt, which was 6-0 in true road games coming in, fell to 26-12 at Madison Square garden since the 2000-01 season...St. John's snapped a five- game skid in the series...Gibbs hit 6-of-9 from three-point range...Justin Burrell netted 15 points off the bench for St. John's, which got 11 points and seven rebounds from Kennedy.