By Joseph Staszewski
D’Angelo Harrison practices tough, well-guarded shots for just these situations. Unhappy with his shooting of late, he has worked a little extra in recent weeks, only to see it pay off.
The sophomore guard scored 24 points, including nine of St. John’s’ last 11 to close out its 71-67 Big East men’s basketball win over Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden Sunday afternoon.
“We are blessed to have him in that situation,” said freshman forward JaKarr Sampson, who scored 19 points. “That’s what he does best. He scores the ball in tight situations.”
Harrison hit two contested fall-away jumpers from right elbow to put the Red Storm up six with 1:30 remaining in the game. On the second shot, he had to fade back just a little extra to get the ball over the outstretched hand of Seton Hall’s Kyle Smyth.
“After it left my hand I knew it was good, because I practice it,” he said.
The win is Red Storm’s fourth straight and moves them into third place in the conference. That is all Harrison, who is approaching the 1,000 career point mark, cares about right now. He’s seeing his team begin to improve on the way it handles adversity, following a blowout loss to Georgetown Jan. 12.
“I just want to win,” Harrison said. “It’s time to win here.”
The Red Storm (13-7, 5-3), who also got 10 points from Phil Greene, did all the things needed to make that happen. They withstood torrid shooting early from Seton Hall (13-7, 2-5), only to rip off a 23-4 run over the first and second half to go up 51-35 with 15:30 left.
The Pirates rallied to within 60-59 on two free throws from center Eugene Teague (22 points) with 4:22 remaining. St. John’s went 3:00 without scoring during that span despite taking quality shots in Coach Steve Lavin’s mind.
“We were getting such good looks there wasn’t much I can say,” he said.
Harrison did his talking with his actions. His jumpers and a tip by the fully outstretched arm of Chris Obekpa, put the game away. Harrison, who excels in crunch time, performing the way he did proved to be the difference maker St. John’s needed in this game and for the future.
“He’s been scoring his whole life,” Sir’Dominic Pointer said. “We want him to keep doing that and help us get wins.”