With the clock winding down in overtime and St. John’s down three to Villanova, the number one option on the potential game-tying play – Moe Harkless – could only stand and watch.
Fans that braved the cold were rewarded with a heated Big East battle that came down to the buzzer with the Johnnies falling to Villanova, 79-76 in overtime.
St. John’s (8-11, 2-6 Big East) last possession broke down and the ensuing scramble led to Sir’Dominic Pointer – who has hit only five of 25 threes this year – taking the final shot that clanged off the front of the rim, leaving the Johnnies with their fourth straight loss and sixth in their last seven games.
“Coach [Dunlap] drew up a good play,” said guard Phil Greene, who finished with a career-high 14 points. “We didn’t come out and execute it right, but we still had an opportunity and a good look to tie the game.”
The Red Storm found themselves in overtime only after losing a double-digit lead with less than seven minutes to play and not getting a shot off on the final possession of regulation.
“The execution of the last play before the buzzer went off and overtime is my responsibility, no one else’s,” said Assistant Coach Mike Dunlap, who has stepped in for Steve Lavin as he continues to recover from October prostate cancer surgery.
With the game tied and less than 10 seconds remaining, God’sgift Achiuwa’s errant pass to Harkless was stolen forcing overtime.
Though the Johnnies failed to convert their last-second opportunities and were out rebounded by 16, Dunlap said the outcome of the game came down to foul shots.
“We left the game on the free throw line. It’s that simple,” Dunlap said. “You can talk about the rebounds, you can talk about the turnovers, but the bottom line is free throws are easy baskets.”
St. John’s shot 14-25 from the line, which included five misses in the extra period.
After hitting just four of their 22 three-pointers during regulation, Villanova made both attempts in overtime helping them build a seven-point lead which the Johnnies could not overcome.
The Red Storm jumped out to an early 12-4 lead on the strength of five of six shooting, including two Harrison three-pointers – which matched the team’s total from the previous two games.
The Johnnies followed that hot streak by, as has happened often this season, going cold, hitting just four of their next 22 shots.
In the second half, the Johnnies again came out firing on all cylinders. This time, St. John’s was able to carry the momentum through the rest of half shooting 68 percent, led by D’Angelo Harrison’s 20 points.
Harrison set a career high in points – 28 – after struggling over his previous two games, hitting just three of 19 shots over those contests.
Villanova (10-10, 3-5) was led by the Big East’s second leading scorer Maalik Wayns who scored 28 – including two game tying shots with under 70 seconds left in regulation.
St. John’s next faces West Virginia (15-5, 5-2) Wednesday night at MSG at 7 p.m.