Red Storm pull away late to down South FloridaMar 6, 2011 - 6:27 AM St. John's overcame a sluggish start to down South Florida, 72-56, on Senior Night at Carnasecca Arena.
Justin Brownlee supplied 13 points and five rebounds while Paris Horne added 11 points for the Red Storm (20-10, 12-6 Big East), who reached the 20-win plateau for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign.
Sean Evans contributed nine points and nine boards for the hosts, who closed the regular season with wins in nine of their last 11 games. St. John's will be the fifth seed and have a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament.
"Our message throughout these last five weeks or in this run of 9-of-11 was to not be satisfied, to keep the hard edge, and continue to revisit or remain connected to the essentials that have lead to our success," Red Storm coach Steve Lavin said. "There's been less focus on the winning, it's not so much the winning, but more the approach or the attitude that we take to each game."
Augustus Gilchrist finished with 16 points and Shaun Noriega chipped in with 14 for the Bulls (9-22, 3-15), who wound up 1-12 on the road this season.
Trailing by two, the Red Storm opened the second half with a 9-2 spurt to fashion a 39-34 lead with 15:41 to play in the game.
After falling behind 45-43, St. John's regathered itself and ran off 10 of the next 12 points to grab a six-point advantage on back-to-back makes by Horne and Hardy from long distance with 7:20 to play.
Brownlee made two free throws and a jumper around an Evans dunk to stretch the margin to 66-53 inside of three minutes to go and the Red Storm were never threatened from that point forward.
Noriega's triple put the Bulls ahead 6-5 and the visitors maintained the lead, by as many as six, until Hardy's trifecta put the Red Storm in front, 30-29, with 68 ticks remaining in the half.
But, another Noriega three with 52 seconds remaining gave the hosts a 32-30 edge at the break.
"It goes back to how we played in the first half and how we didn't play in the second half," USF coach Stan Heath said. "We had ball movement. The ball went side to side and went inside and out. In the second half, St. John's applied more of a defensive pressure and we saw more of our guys dribbling the basketball with their head down, dribbling into trouble. We ended up taking a lot more difficult shots than we took in the first half because of the lack of ball movement."
Kennedy was 3-of-9 from the floor and 8-of-11 at the foul line...Three of Hardy's makes were from beyond the arc, as St. John's went 6-of-21 on three- point shots...The Bulls shot only 41 percent from the floor, including a 3- of-13 effort from long range...St. John's leads the all-time series, 6-1.
- SOUTH FLORIDA: 56
ST. JOHN'S: 72
Mar 5 10:17 PM
- SOUTH FLORIDA: 32
ST. JOHN'S: 30
Mar 5 8:50 PM
- SOUTH FLORIDA: 0
ST. JOHN'S: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Mar 5 8:09 PM
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