Without the Big East’s leading scorer to turn to, the No. 12 Bluejays struggled offensively and the Red Storm came away with a 70-65 victory on Sunday night at “The Garden, capturing St. John’s sixth win in seven games. The only loss during that stretch came at Creighton two weeks ago.
St. John’s (15-9, 5-6 Big East) won its first game against a ranked team since the Red Storm topped then-No. 12 Notre Dame, 67-63, at The Garden on Jan. 15, 2013.
“McDermott beat us last time,” said St. John’s swingman Sir’Dominic Pointer, who spent much of the evening draped all over the Big East’s Preseason Player of the Year, sharing defensive duties with sophomore JaKarr Sampson. “We thought we’d let someone else try and beat us this time.”
Nobody stepped up for Creighton, but Red Storm junior guard D’Angelo Harrison scored 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:08 to play, for
“The game was still in hand and we got a big shot from a big player,” Pointer said before rethinking his answer. “We got a great shot from a great player.”
Harrison’s 19 included a pair of 3-pointers and a 9-of-10 effort at the line, to go along with five rebounds and two steals. Sampson scored eight points with five rebounds and used four of his fouls during a concerted effort to limit McDermott. Pointer scored nine points and added four rebounds and classmate Phil Greene IV also had nine.
McDermott matched his conference-leading average with 25 points for the Bluejays (19-4, 9-2 Big East), who had won 14-of-15 and were tied for first place in the conference with Villanova.
“They did a great job of taking me away,” McDermott said. “I thought they did a great job of switching whenever I came off screens. They were really disciplined a lot more down the stretch, so you’ve got to give them credit.”
McDermott had 39 points when the teams met two weeks ago, including a long 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left for a 63-60 victory.
St. John’s started 0-5 in BIG EAST play, and times were tough to say the least.
“The hardship we faced earlier in the season seems to have forged a certain strength,” said Lavin. “We’re not satisfied, we haven’t achieved anything of significance, but tonight’s win is another hurdle that has been cleared and an indication that this team is improving.”
The Red Storm crosses heads to New Jersey to face local conference rival Seton Hall on Thursday, Feb. 13 (9 p.m., FOX Sports 1).