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Red Storm stops Seton Hall for first conference win

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Marcus Hatten registered his first double-double of the season, scoring 31 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead the St. John’s University men’s basketball team to a hard-fought 74-66 win over the Seton Hall Pirates Saturday at Madison Square Garden in the Big East Conference opener for both teams.

Hatten scored 16 straight points during one stretch in the first half, as the Red Storm overcame a 19-12 deficit to lead 34-28 at the break.

“I don’t think there was any way he didn’t score,” remarked Seton Hall head coach Louis Orr. “He’s a guy; if he gets going, he can carry a team.”

Hatten hit from every conceivable angle en route to his season-high scoring output, outdueling the Pirates’ junior point guard Andre Barrett, a Rice High School alum, who led his team with 22 points, four assists and three rebounds.

Barrett and his teammates overcame an 8-2 deficit early in the first half by stroking some long-range bombs, three consecutive threes — two by John Allen (15 points, five rebounds, four assists) sandwiching a Barrett trey — to complete a 17-4 run before the Red Storm finally responded.

A bucket and free throw by grad student forward Anthony Glover (9 points, eight rebounds) and a three by freshman point guard Elijah Ingram (11 points, four rebounds) pulled St. John’s within 1, 19-18 at the 10-minute mark.

And though Seton Hall tried to keep pace with the revitalized Storm‚ including another three-pointer by Mauricio Branwell, St. John’s and Hatten would not be denied.

“We want our guys to understand who the hot man is and get him the ball,” Jarvis said.

That they did.

Hatten, who also had a team-high four assists and four steals, put the team squarely on his back down the stretch of the first half. After three field goals and going 6-of-6 from the charity stripe, Hatten picked a sprawling Allen at midcourt and went uncontested to the hole for a dunk to complete his 16-point stretch.

The Pirates (5-5, 0-1) continued to stroke it from long range and nearly shot their way back into the game in the second half. But every time they got close, St. John’s seemingly had an answer. Two free throws by Branwell made the score 53-50, but Willie Shaw (11 points, four rebounds) drilled one from beyond the arc and Ingram did the same a minute later to push the lead back to seven, 60-53.

Back-to-back baskets by Hatten and Kyle Cuffe (8 points) pushed the Red Storm’s advantage to 10 inside two minutes, but back-to-back threes by Barrett and Darius Copeland seconds apart cut the lead to five, 69-64 with a minute remaining.

St. John’s (7-3, 1-0) hit 5-of-6 from the line in the waning moments to close the lid on the team’s first conference win of the season.

The numbers indicate how close a game it was, as both teams connected for 23 field goals. St. John’s managed to get to the line more, hitting 23-of-31 attempts, while Seton Hall connected on 12-of-19. The Red Storm also held a slight edge under the boards, grabbing 26 rebounds to the Pirates’ 24.

St. John’s will fly out to the left coast for a non-league battle against the UCLA Bruins Saturday at 3 p.m. The game marks only the seventh time the two teams have ever hooked up, with SJU holding a 4-2 advantage. The game will be televised on Fox Sports.

Providence 75, St. John's 71. The Red Storm battle back from a double-digit deficit in the second half to take the lead, but eventually fell to the Friars Wednesday night in Rhode Island. Hatten netted 30 points with five rebounds and four assists, while Cuffe added a career-high 19 points with 11 rebounds and Glover chipped in 12 points in the loss. St. John's dropped to 7-4 overall and 1-1 in Big East action with the defeat.

St. John’s 78, Niagara 68. The Red Storm snapped a three-game losing streak earlier in the week, defeating the Niagara Purple Eagles Jan. 2 at Alumni Hall. Cuffe led four St. John’s players in double figures with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Hatten had 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Glover contributed 13 points and five rebounds, and Shaw added 11 points, four assists and three boards. Ingram dished out five assists with 5 points, and Tim Doyle added 6 points, three steals and two boards off the bench. Tremmell Darden led Niagara with 19 points.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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