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Another stormy ending for Johnnies

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But J.D. Collins' end-to-end layup, which rolled around the rim for what seemed like an eternity, dropped for West Virginia with 1.4 seconds left and St. John's was left to deal with a 67-66 loss at Carnesecca Arena Wednesday night.It was the Johnnies fourth one-point loss of the year. Four points go the other way and St. John's could be 12-10 instead of 8-14."I thought (the ball) was coming out but it didn't fall our way," Hamilton said. "This is the toughest loss because this was at our home."St. John's coach Norm Roberts and his players have said they'll get the breaks sooner or later. But it's getting later sooner for the Johnnies, especially with the self imposed ban on post-season play this year."We had that game, we fought back," Daryll Hill said. "It's kind of tough but I guess this happens when teams want to be good, want to be great. We just have to keep competing."St. John's (8-14, 2-10 Big East) rallied from a 14-point deficit to take a 5-point lead on a corner 3-pointer by Ryan Williams with 4:29 left in the second half. But West Virginia (15-8, 5-7) scored six straight points and took a 65-64 lead on free throws from Johannes Herber, who was fouled by Williams on a long 3-point attempt from the left wing.Hill, who played brilliantly, put the Storm back in front on a tough baseline jumper while getting fouled by Collins with 9.7 seconds left. Hill, who scored a game-high 27 points and had 7 assists, scored just 2 points after West Virginia went to a box-and-one defense in the final four minutes.But Hill, a 78 percent free throw shooter, missed the foul shot and West Virginia's Tyrone Sally grabbed the rebound. Collins, who did such a good job defensively on Hill late in the second half, raced down the court with Eugene Lawrence chasing a step behind.The junior guard worked his way into the lane, Hamilton came to help but backed off at the last second, and Collins, who averages 2.7 points per game and was scoreless to that point, scored the winning basket."We practice that at the end of practice almost every day and I found an opening so I took advantage of it," Collins said.St. John's needed to go the length of the court in 1.4 seconds and Williams tried to hit Hamilton with a three-quarters-court pass. But Hamilton, who was at the foul line, tried to tap the ball to Hill and it went harmlessly into the arms of Herber as the final buzzer painfully sounded for the Red Storm."They all bother you because we're playing so hard," Roberts said of the losses. "Sometimes you think stuff should fall your way but it's just not falling our way now. But in the future it will."West Virginia jumped all over the slow starting Storm and hit 8 of its first 10 shots. Led by 9 of Mike Gansey's 18 points, the Mountaineers raced out to a 19-5 lead.But the Johnnies chipped away. Cedric Jackson, who didn't start because he missed a scheduled tutoring session, woke up the crowd of 3,943 with a reverse alley-oop dunk. St. John's, which shot a season-high 60.9 percent from the field, got within three in the first half and trailed 39-35 at the break.Kevin Pittsnogle had 21 points and Sally added 12 points for West Virginia, which edged the Red Storm 64-60 in Morganstown Jan. 8.Hamilton, who scored a combined 15 points in three straight losses for the Storm, finished with 17 points and 4 blocks. Dexter Gray added a quiet 9 points for St. John's, which hosts Georgetown at Madison Square Garden Sunday at 2 p.m.Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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