NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The list of surprising things that happened in the Prudential Center on Thursday night was long and interesting.
It starts with Seton Hall, the worst 3-point shooting team in the Big East, having its best game of the season from long range.
Then there was the Pirates taking a second-half hit and not only retaking the lead against No. 15 St. John’s but pulling away over the final 4 minutes.
Don’t forget that St. John’s coach Steve Lavin and senior forward Justin Burrell were ejected in two separate incidents over the last 2 minutes.
And there was something else, too. Oh yeah, Seton Hall ended a three-game slide with an 84-70 victory that snapped the Red Storm’s six-game winning streak.
“Coming in we knew we were playing the Johnnies and we knew it was going to be a metropolitan area rivalry so we just wanted to come out with the win so we could be the big-time guys in the metropolitan area,” said Jeremy Hazell, who had a season-high 31 points. “And our guys came out and played great and we stuck it to them and came out victorious.”
Lavin, who apologized to his team for getting two technical fouls with 1:55 to play, said Seton Hall simply “took us to the wood shed and really waxed us.”
Freshman Fuquan Edwin had a career-best 19 points for the Pirates, who improved to 2-8 this season against ranked teams, the other win coming at Syracuse.
Seton Hall (12-17, 6-11) had lost five of six and came into the game shooting 28.4 percent from 3-point range. But the Pirates made 7 of 11 from long range in taking 34-30 halftime lead.
The Pirates, who have won eight of their last 11 games against St. John’s, finished 12 of 18 from 3-point range (66.7 percent) with Edwin going 5 of 6 and Hazell, the Big East’s career leader in 3s made in conference games, 4 of 6.
“They did a nice job of spacing and they moved the ball very well and were able to find shooters,” Lavin said. “That’s as remarkable a shooting performance from any team I’ve faced in my career.”
Dwight Hardy scored 23 points for St. John’s (19-10, 11-6), which was one of the hottest teams in the country, having won eight of nine. But the Red Storm fell apart late in the game, getting outscored 14-2 over the last 4 minutes.
Lavin was ejected by official Joe Lindsey for arguing during a timeout with Seton Hall leading 77-68.
“He came out onto the court in an unsportsmanlike manner, which got him the first technical foul, and then he continued to carry on in a manner that was unsportsmanlike and was assessed the second technical foul,” official John Cahill told a pool reporter.
Lavin said he “was probably too animated in my on-court demeanor and discourse. Big East rules prohibit us from talking about officials and I’ll follow those rules.”
Burrell was called for a flagrant foul and was ejected by Cahill after he ran down Seton Hall reserve Anali Okoloji in the open court with 7.6 seconds left and the outcome definitely decided.
First-year Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard put a local spin on the closing minutes.
“New York and New Jersey. … I cross that bridge every day,” he said. “Try crossing that bridge and you’ll get a little chippy too.”
St. John’s, which had beaten six teams this season ranked 13th or higher, took its only lead of the second half at 53-49 on a four-point play by Justin Brownlee with 12:19 to play.
The crowd of 9,470 seemed ready to sit back and watch the Red Storm pull away to another late-season win but Hazell made three free throws after being fouled taking a 3 and Edwin hit his fourth 3 of the game to make it 55-53 with 11:26 left.
St. John’s tied it two more times. Hardy converted a layup with 8:06 left, then missed a free throw for a possible three-point play, leaving it tied at 59.
Jeff Robinson’s 3-pointer with 7:46 left gave the Pirates the lead for good.
Edwin sandwiched his fifth and sixth 3s of the game around two free throws by Malik Boothe to start the Pirates’ big closing run.
“It wasn’t the 3s. Everybody played together and everyone knocked down open shots. If they didn’t give us those 3s we probably would have gotten something closer to the basket,” said Robinson, who finished with 10 points, all in the second half. “Today, the way they played their defense 3s were what was open and everybody was sticking and hitting them, so it worked in our favor.”
The Red Storm were 3 of 12 from long range (25 percent).
“I don’t feel we came out in the right mindset,” Boothe, one of St. John’s 10 seniors, said. “They came out with more energy than us from the jump and it showed throughout the game and it showed because they got the `W.”‘
The ejections put a weird ending on the game and left St. John’s facing a lot of questions heading into its regular-season finale on Saturday against South Florida. If the Red Storm had won the last two games they would have earned a double-bye in next week’s Big East tournament.
“We have to get single bye now,” Hardy said. “The double bye would have been good. We still have great momentum. We just have to take the hit.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)