St. John's Basketball: Dwight Hardy Hits Game-Winner in Upset of Pittsburgh

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St. John's Basketball: Dwight Hardy Hits Game-Winner in Upset of Pittsburgh
Photo from New York Daily News.com

In a game that included everything, St. John's prevailed over the Panthers of Pittsburgh in a close battle that went into the final seconds of the game.  Technical fouls were called and personal fouls were aplenty.  With 11 seconds left, and the Red Storm down by one, it was only fitting that Dwight Hardy scored the game winning layup leaving Pittsburgh with 1.2 seconds to try and make a miracle shot.

In the first half, it was a game neither team could dominate.  St. John's started off well and created a sizable lead which ultimately turned into a one point deficit by the end of the first half.  What kept the Red Storm from doing well early on was foul trouble.  Within the first seven minutes of the game, two of St. John's leading scorers, Dwight Hardy and Justin Brownlee, had two fouls apiece.  Without their two top scorers, the Red Storm learned how to manage.

Without Hardy and Brownlee, the other Justin—Justin Burrell—took it upon himself and stepped up.  With the help of guard Malik Boothe, Burrell was able to get easier shots inside the paint which helped them makeup for the early loss of Hardy and Brownlee.  Not only was Burrell a big help on offense, he was also able to play tough defense on Pittsburgh center Gary McGhee.  From seven minutes left in the first half until late in the second half, McGhee was held without a single field goal, keeping him at seven points for the game following a hot start.

After being down by one at the end of the first half, St. Johns came back on the court and kept up with Pittsburgh.  Both teams exchanged several leads and no one team had too much of a lead, just like the first half.  What really killed St. John's in the second half was three-point shooting.  The problem wasn't their ability to shoot for three, it was giving up too many open three-point shots to Pittsburgh guard Ashton Gibbs.  Gibbs killed St. John's from the outside, going 6-9 from three-point range and scoring a total of 26 points.

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What helped keep St. John's alive in the second half was free throw shots.  The Red Storm were able to drive to the basket and produce three-point play opportunities that got the Panthers over the limit.  As the game went into the later stages, the Red Storm received bonus shots, which kept them in the game and set up the great ending.

Although Gibbs was a huge reason why Pittsburgh did well over the course of this game, it was Dwight Hardy who stole the show.  St. John's has now beaten five ranked opponents in Madison Square Garden, helping to boost their resume for the NCAA tournament.  Because of this big win, the Red Storm are now tied for third in the Big East with Louisville, Georgetown and Villanova.

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