St. John's D'Angelo Harrison moves upcourt during a game against...

St. John's D'Angelo Harrison moves upcourt during a game against UNC Asheville. (Dec. 21, 2012) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- D'Angelo Harrison scored a career-high 36 points, but on a night when St. John's other big gun -- freshman JaKarr Sampson -- was misfiring, Harrison couldn't overcome the equally hot hands of Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono and JayVaughn Pinkston. They combined for 58 points in the Wildcats' 98-86 overtime victory in the Big East opener Wednesday night for both teams at the Pavilion.

Freshman point guard Arcidiacono scored a career-high 32 points to lead Villanova (10-4, 1-0 Big East), and sophomore Pinkston added his career-high 26 points. Darrun Hilliard had six of his 14 points in overtime as the Wildcats outscored the Red Storm 15-3 in the extra session.

Sampson's Big East debut was a disappointment with only two points before fouling out, but Amir Garrett and Phil Greene each had 15 points and Jamal Branch added 12 for St. John's (8-5, 0-1). With 4.5 seconds left in regulation, Harrison was fouled and made both ends of a one-and-one to send it to OT tied at 83.

But St. John's fell apart in the extra session as Sampson, Branch and Garrett all fouled out, joining teammate Sir'Dominic Pointer, who fouled out in regulation. The breakdown in OT was a continuation of the Red Storm's problems in regulation as far as coach Steve Lavin was concerned.

"There were some positives," Lavin said of his young team. "But in the end, we didn't finish well at the end of the first half, didn't finish well in the second half and didn't finish well in overtime. If you don't finish, you're not going to be successful."

St. John's had a 38-30 lead near the end of the first half when Branch, who made his first start in his second game since becoming eligible, committed a flagrant foul against Arcidiacono that turned into a four-point possession. Then two Branch turnovers led to two fast-break layups by Pinkston for a 43-38 Nova lead.

"Jamal did some good things, but the technical hurt us," Lavin said. "He's the point guard. If anyone has to keep their poise, it's the point guard."

For most of the first half, it seemed as if it was Harrison trying to win a shootout against Arcidiacono and Pinkston. Harrison had 21 of his points and four of his six three-pointers in the first half, which ended with the Storm down, 43-40.

Speaking of the shootout atmosphere, Harrison said, "You can say that because of the stats. We knew No. 15 [Arcidiacono] was killing, and Pinkston played well also. But JaKarr has carried me in some games, and he's going to pick it up. I know he is."

Help came in the second half from Garrett and Greene. Trailing 78-74, Garrett scored on a layup followed by a three from Greene and a driving bank shot for an 81-78 lead with 1:58 left. But Garrett fouled Hilliard on a three-point attempt and he made all three foul shots to tie it again. By the time it reached OT, St. John's was out of gas.

"We had a lot of guys in foul trouble," Branch said. "I won't say 'soft,' but we had to play hesitant."

Lesson learned for a young team.

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