Jamarius Burton #11 of the Pittsburgh Panthers shoots the game...

Jamarius Burton #11 of the Pittsburgh Panthers shoots the game winning basket in the final seconds of the second half against Joel Soriano #11 of the St. John's Red Storm at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

St. John’s walked into the Garden for its nonconference finale having already won its next scheduled game, claiming a forfeit Friday of Monday’s Big East opener due to Seton Hall’s COVID-19 issues. But the pandemic had already reached out and touched the Red Storm, too.

It was announced Saturday morning that Julian Champagnie would be unavailable for the noon Gotham Classic showcase game against ACC opponent Pitt. The 6-8 junior wing, who leads the team at 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 43.3% on threes, had tested positive and entered health and safety protocols.

The Red Storm, the Big East’s top offensive team at 85.2 points upon the opening tip, went out and showed how much they need him.

Jamarius Burton nailed a jumper with 0.4 left on the clock for the final two of his game-high 20 points, giving the Panthers a 59-57 win.

So St. John’s will take an 8-3 mark into Big East play. The forfeit doesn’t count toward their overall record.

Next up is Butler Thursday night at Carnesecca Arena. Champagnie is out for that game as well since he has to miss at least 10 days following the day of the positive test, according to St. John’s. Coach Mike Anderson said the team found out about the results "a few days ago." He said Champagnie is "OK."

"That’s your leading scorer," Anderson said. "But as I told our guys, somebody else has got to step up. But at the same time, we’re hopeful and praying that Julian is going to be OK as well as all the people that are affected by this virus."

The uptempo Red Storm scored just four fast-break points and went only 6-for-18 from distance.

But Dylan Addae-Wusu, the high scorer for St. John’s with just 12 points, stepped up to the line for a 1-and-1 with Pitt up 57-55 and 8.1 seconds left, and he tied it.

"We practice free throws every day, and Coach emphasizes making free throws," Addae-Wusu said.

Anderson also emphasizes defense. But following a timeout, Burton dribbled straight up the court and cut left off a screen at the three-point line. The senior guard pulled up for a short jumper from just outside the lane, making the Panthers a 4-7 team.

"I’ve been in those situations before," Burton said. "I just came up short. So for me having the confidence to step up again was really big."

The Red Storm went up by 10 in the first half, but the lead was down to 35-31 at the break.

They led 55-52 with 2:45 left thanks to a drive by Montez Mathis. Then Burton made two free throws at 2:34 and again at 2:00. The Panthers led by one.

The next three possessions for St. John’s went like this: Mo Gueye, the former Stony Brook forward who scored 15, blocked a Mathis layup attempt; Stef Smith traveled; and John Hugley blocked a Posh Alexander shot.

William Jeffress hit a free throw for a 57-55 Pitt edge with 16.1 remaining.

And Burton ultimately finished the job.

"When you let a team hang around and hang around, it comes back to bite you, and it did," Anderson said. "He made a good shot."

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