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Victory a First for Hofstra / 'Improves' to 1-19 vs. St. John�s

HOFSTRA 86

ST. JOHN'S 80

Next for St. John's:

Thursday vs.

Manhattan at Alumni Hall, 7:30 p.m.

TV: Ch. 55

Radio: WEVD (1050)

Next for Hofstra:

Dec. 26 at ECAC Holiday Festival vs. Rutgers, 8:30 p.m.

TV: MSG

For the players who came to St. John's because of its storied basketball

tradition, to watch yet another round of their less-celebrated New York City

playground buddies high-five each other at their expense was almost too much to

take.

If it's not Bevon Robin at Fordham or Brian Brown at Ohio State, it's

Norman Richardson out of Grady High School. Richardson's 22 points for Hofstra

helped end St. John's 19-game winning streak over the Long Island school down

the parkway. Hofstra's 86-80 victory at Nassau Coliseum yesterday is the latest

in a lengthening string of disappointments for a fractured St. John's team.

"It's very frustrating," St. John's freshman Willie Shaw said. "Now they

have bragging rights, even though they shouldn't have."

Shaw nearly dismantled Hofstra, now 1-19 against the Storm, by himself. He

scored 18 of his career-high 28 points in the first half after coming off the

bench for the first time this season, but he couldn't do it alone. Omar Cook

(13 points) had another poor outing, committing a season-high-tying seven

turnovers to go with 13 assists. Senior Reggie Jessie buried himself further in

coach Mike Jarvis' doghouse, missing two free throws with Hofstra ahead 78-74

and 1:59 remaining. Jessie also lost the ball out of bounds earlier in the

game, after which the coach glared and snapped at his captain.

Even stalwart Anthony Glover (17 points) suffered freshman-like indignity

when Roberto Gittens stripped the ball from his hands with Hofstra leading

70-68. Glover had the ball ripped away again by Rick Apodaca on the next

possession for a held ball, which was awarded to Hofstra. Apodaca (14 points)

hit a turnaround jumper for a 72-68 lead and the upset brewed.

"I felt we were going to come out and put these guys away, but they stayed

in the ballgame with us," Glover said.

The difference was Hofstra's poise down the stretch. Despite twice cutting

the deficit to two in the final 4:45, St. John's could not catch the Pride.

Richardson's three-pointer with 3:32 to go made it 77-72, and after Cook's

layup, the St. John's point guard fouled Richardson, who made one of two free

throws for a 78-74 lead. Jessie's missed free throws followed, and Jason

Hernandez' jumper from the key put Hofstra (6-2) up by six with 1:32 left as

the senior-laden Pride easily broke St. John's press.

Hofstra coach Jay Wright praised his players for making smart decisions.

Jarvis, meanwhile, has tired of offering explanations for his team's

sloppiness.

The Red Storm has lost three straight and four out of five. The only loss

to a ranked team was to Kansas in the first weekend.

"I don't want any excuses about how young we are because we can't use it as

an excuse at this time," he said.

Jarvis said the other day that he would make changes after a 71-58 loss to

Ohio State. He started Alpha Bangura at shooting guard and brought Shaw off the

bench, trimmed Mohamed Diakite's minutes in favor of the more offense-minded

Kyle Cuffe (six points) and abandoned what had been a porous zone defense for

man-to-man to determine which of his players would display the most hustle.

Besides possibly moving Glover back to center, Jarvis likely will stay in

the man-to-man until he figures out who deserves the minutes. Yesterday, the

only St. John's players showing the proper verve were Sharif Fordham on defense

and Shaw on offense.

"Willie did a great job coming off the bench," Jessie said. "We need more

people to step up."

In a despondent locker room, Glover said he had "no clue" why the Red Storm

players have not come together.

"Certain people are on one page and others are on a different page," he

said. "I think we're capable of being a better team, but words are just words.

We have to start talking with our actions and stop talking with our lips."

New York Sports