Perfect Stormed: St. John's knocks off No. 9 Pitt
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Lamont Hamilton scored 24 points with eight rebounds as St. John's handed ninth-ranked Pittsburgh its first loss of the season, a 55-50 defeat in a Big East matchup at Madison Square Garden.
Eugene Lawrence added 10 points for the Red Storm (10-6, 3-2 Big East), who won their third game in a row. Daryll Hill added eight points, four rebounds and four assists in the win, St. John's second straight against a ranked opponent.
The Red Storm entered the tilt off a 68-56 upset of No. 17 Louisville at the Garden on Tuesday.
Aaron Gray tallied 14 points with nine rebounds for the Panthers (15-1, 4-1), who began the day as one of only three teams left undefeated in major college basketball, along with top-ranked Duke and second-ranked Florida.
Carl Krauser scored 10 points, but failed to connect on two three-pointers down the stretch that could have tied the game.
Down 47-36, the Panthers used a 12-0 run to take its first lead of game with just over 2 1/2 minutes remaining. Levon Kendall's set of free throws started the spurt, which was capped by Krauser's jumper that gave Pittsburgh a one- point edge.
Lawrence and Aaron Spears each hit a free throw to give the Red Storm the lead back at 49-48, and Hamilton's layup made it a three-point game with 27 seconds left.
Krauser missed a three-pointer on the Panthers next possession, but Gray grabbed the offensive rebound and converted from inside the paint to cut the lead to 51-50 with 13 seconds remaining.
Hamilton then connected twice from the charity stripe and Krauser missed on a three-point attempt with four seconds left in the contest. St. John's Phil Missere then hit two free throws to ice the game.
Pittsburgh shot just 28 percent from the floor in the first half to St. John's 40 percent, and hardly looked like a team that had run off 15 straight wins.
St. John's dominated the first six minutes of the contest, opening up on a 14-0 run. Hill sparked the spurt with two free throws and then fed Lawrence for a three-pointer and a five-point lead. Lawrence's jumper capped the run.
The Panthers, meanwhile, missed their first eight shots before an Antonio Graves three-pointer 6 1/2 minutes into the game got them on the board.
A three-pointer by Hamilton made it a 19-5 game with 12 minutes left, but a jumper by Gray and a trey by John DeGroat later pulled the Panthers to within 23-17 with 7 1/2 minutes left in the first half.
However, the Red Storm ran off six straight points to extend to a 29-17 advantage with under five minutes left. St. John's took a 31-19 lead into halftime.
A 7-0 spurt by Pittsburgh, highlighted by a Ronald Ramon conversion from behind the arc, cut the Panthers' deficit to 35-28 less then four minutes into the second half.
Hill's jumper ended the run, but the Panthers responded by scoring the next six points to pull within three, 37-34.
Again St. John's countered, this time netting 10 of the next 12 points, including four from Hamilton. The run put the Red Storm ahead 47-36 with just over eight minutes remaining.
DeGroat finished with five points and Kendall added four...Pittsburgh's 15- game winning streak was tied for the third-best in school history. The 1915-16 Panther squad also started 15-0...This was the 49th meeting between the two programs, with St. John's holding a 33-16 all-time edge.PITT STJOHNS