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Syracuse holds off St. John's

Mar 11, 2011 - 2:18 AM New York, NY (Sports Network) - Brandon Triche scored 22 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists to help 11th-ranked Syracuse stave off No. 17 St. John's, 79-73, in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.

Kris Joseph provided 14 points while Rick Jackson supplied 10 points and nine boards for the Orange (26-6), who face Connecticut in Friday's semifinals.

Freshman Fab Melo chipped in with 12 points and Scoop Jardine added 10 for the Orange, who have won six consecutive games. Teams with the double-byes are now 4-6 since the league instituted that format for the 2008-09 tournament.

"I've said for two years now when you sit around till Thursday it's not good. I think it's difficult for the top seeds to do that," said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim.

"I'm glad we won so that everybody doesn't think I'm crying but ... I don't think it's a good way to do it. But this was a real good win and St. John's is a real good team."

Dwight Hardy posted 22 points while Justin Brownlee contributed 15 points, seven boards and four assists for the Red Storm (21-11), who have not advanced to the semifinals since 2000.

St. John's D.J. Kennedy left early in the first half with an apparent knee injury and did not return to the game.

Melo and Joseph hit back-to-back layups to cap a 13-4 run to start the second half and put the Orange back on top 45-41 with 16 minutes to play.

St. John's countered with a 13-5 surge of its own to retake the lead at 58-57 on Paris Horne's three-point play with 8 1/2 minutes to go.

The lead went back-and-forth four times, as the teams were not separated by more than three points, before the Red Storm tied the game at 68 on a Sean Evans foul shot with 2:25 remaining.

Melo's layup off an inbounds pass put the Orange ahead 70-68 with two minutes left and Joseph extended the lead to four on a driving layup with 76 ticks to go.

Hardy hit a pair at the line 10 seconds later to halve the lead but Melo answered with a layup as the shot clock was running down at the other end. Hardy was then called for a travel while trying to split a double team.

Joseph canned 1-of-2 at the line to make it 75-70 with 27 seconds left and Triche sealed the win with four more foul shots.

"Hats off to Syracuse down the stretch," said St. John's head coach Steve Lavin. "They were able to get some interior looks, some high-percentage shots at the rim, and got enough stops defensively to be able to get the victory."

Syracuse opened a 14-5 lead before St. John's put together a 17-6 surge to forge a 22-20 advantage on a Malik Stith tip-in with slightly less than eight minutes remaining in the half.

Stith's fastbreak layup and foul shot to complete a three-point play gave St. John's a 37-31 edge with 30 ticks to go and the Red Storm took a 37-32 lead at the break.

Game Notes

Triche was a perfect 8-for-8 at the line, as Syracuse, a notoriously bad foul shooting team, made 20-of-29...Triche was 5-of-13 from the field with four of his makes from beyond the arc...Melo connected on all five of his shots from the field to reach a career-high in points...Hardy was 9-of-17 shooting while Brownlee made 7-of-11...St. John's outrebounded Syracuse, 38-36...Each team scored 19 points off turnovers.