SOUTH BEND, Ind. - D.J. Kennedy's two free throws with 12 seconds left gave St. John's a 69-68 Big East Conference win over Notre Dame last night.
St. John's had lost its first five Big East road games, but coach Norm Roberts said the Red Storm (14-10, 4-8) persevered. "This league is unreal. It's unreal how hard it is,'' he said. "I think our guys have been through some tough battles and we're fighting back. We're coming closer together as a team. I was really happy for them because they've really been working hard."
Notre Dame was playing without injured Luke Harangody, who is third in the nation in scoring. The Irish (17-9, 6-7) saw their dwindling NCAA Tournament hopes fade a bit more when Tory Jackson missed a pair of three-pointers in the final four seconds.
The Irish went ahead 66-64 when Tim Abromaitis (24 points) made a three-pointer. Dwight Hardy's three-pointer with 57 seconds left gave St. John's a 67-66 lead, but Tyrone Nash (16 points) made two free throws with 38 seconds to play. Then Kennedy sank the winning free throws.
"I was just trying to make a play for my team,'' Kennedy said. "Coach called my number and I just wanted to try and win the game. Any shot I could get or get a foul. I think I should've made the shot but I was happy to get the foul and make the free throws."
Hardy had 16 points and shot 5-for-7 from three-point range. Kennedy, Anthony Mason Jr. and Justin Burrell finished with 12 points each. Said Kennedy, "We definitely feel like we're going into games with the mentality that we're not going to lose. I feel like we're just playing like a team right now. Everybody's contributing. We're just playing well as a team."