No. 13 Villanova entered the second half of play Sunday with a comfortable 11-point lead. It wouldn’t be enough by the final buzzer, as St. John’s came roaring back in the second half to pull off the upset, 71-65.
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It hasn’t been an easy February for the Red Storm having to face three nationally-ranked teams in their first five games of the month. The Feb. 2 visit to Duke didn’t fare so well, resulting in a 30-point, 91-61 loss, but the last two have come in upset fashion. With a Feb. 5 win against No. 10 Marquette and now a thrilling comeback against Villanova, St. John’s is back in the mix as a threat come the Big East tournament.
St. John’s trailed by as many as 19 points but used a 20-5 second-half run to fuel the comeback. LJ Figueroa led the charge for the Red Storm, his huge 3 from the corner putting St. John’s ahead for the first time in the second half 54-53 with just over seven left. He finished with 20 points to lead all scorers.
While Villanova won the battle on the boards, St. John’s turned the ball over just seven times. That margin had a lot to do with the unthinkable comeback. Both Villanova and St. John’s had three players record double-digit points, with Saddiq Bey, Phil Booth, and Joe Cremo scoring 11 a piece for the Wildcats.
It’s another big conference win for St. John’s. The Red Storm is now responsible for both of Marquette’s Big East losses and hands Villanova its second conference loss. While the Wildcats and Golden Eagles sit firmly atop the Big East, St. John’s has a big Feb. 23 matchup with Seton Hall looming that could help them climb the Big East ladder some more heading into March.
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