For more than 25 minutes Sunday afternoon, St. John's splashed jump shots from every angle through the nets at Madison Square Garden. When Phil Greene's 19-footer bottomed out for a 16-point lead over Seton Hall with 14:44 left, it pushed the Red Storm's field-goal percentage to 66.7 percent.
Then the basketball gods turned off the spigot.
Greene, JaKarr Sampson and D'Angelo Harrison still were getting good looks against the Pirates' zone defense, but shooting touch can be an ephemeral thing. The Red Storm made two of its next 17 field-goal attempts and the Hall fought back to make it a one-point game with 4:21 left.
"When the lead was cut to one, our kids looked despondent in the timeout," St. John's coach Steve Lavin said. "It was as though we had just lost the game, but we had the one-point lead. This is the Big East. Inevitably, teams are going to make runs. How do we respond so we can get the win?"
St. John's responded in the most sensible way possible by continuing to put the ball in Harrison's hands. The sophomore ended a seven-minute Red Storm drought without a field goal by hitting two tough fadeaway jumpers from the right of the lane and scoring 11 of his team's final 13 points to secure a 71-67 win over Seton Hall.
"That is just our captain stepping up," Sir'Dominic Pointer said. "We are blessed to have him in a tight situation."
Harrison, who hit a three-pointer at the first-half buzzer to give the Red Storm a 38-33 lead, finished with a game-high 24 points, plus seven rebounds and three assists. Sampson added 19 points and Greene had 10 as St. John's (13-7, 5-3 Big East) won its fourth straight, all against conference foes.
Eugene Teague led Seton Hall (13-7, 2-5) with 22 points. Fuquan Edwin added 14 points.
The Red Storm took control with a 32-8 run that spanned from the first half to Greene's second-half jumper that pushed St. John's lead to 53-37. It was a simple matter of Sampson and Harrison creating their own shots against the Pirates' zone while their teammates played off them.
"We've got two of the best scorers in the league," Pointer said. "If they're hitting, keep finding them."
But when St. John's hit its dry spell, Seton Hall worked inside through Teague, who scored 10 of his points in the 22-7 run that cut the Pirates' deficit to 60-59. Harrison hit one of two foul shots, but with a chance to give Seton Hall the lead, Aaron Cosby and Edwin each missed a three-point shot before Harrison finally gave St. John's breathing room with his 12-foot fadeaway for a 63-59 lead with 2:24 left.
"I've been missing a couple of those," Harrison said. "I missed one at Rutgers [on Wednesday]. When it left my hand, I knew it was good because I've been practicing it."
The 18-foot fadeaway Harrison hit moments later for a six-point lead with 1:30 left was even more difficult. "Coach called my number," Harrison said. "I knew we had to close the game out."
Lavin said his offense "went into the desert," but he couldn't complain because his players took good shots. "There wasn't much I could say," Lavin said. "By saying, 'Make a darn jump shot,' that's not going to help them any. Thankfully, we were able to get to the foul line, and D'Angelo hit some big shots."