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Johnnies out-classed by Pride

"You can't beat us! You can't beat us!" The message rang true. With Hofstra's 63-51 win over St. John's Friday night in the Holiday Festival final at Madison Square Garden, the Pride have won four in a row against the Red Storm - a stat that would have been almost unheard of only a few years ago. Prior to the winning streak, St. John's was 24-1 against its Long Island neighbor.But St. John's guard Eugene Lawrence still feels his team is the top one in the New York metropolitan area."If I didn't feel that way, I wouldn't have come to St. John's," the junior said.Coached by Queens Village native Tom Pecora, Hofstra (8-4) showed differently on the court, though. The Red Storm had no answer for the Pride's backcourt: junior Antoine Agudio won the Festival MVP after scoring 24 points against the Johnnies; Loren Stokes (13 points, 6 assists) made the all-tournament team after making the winning basket against St. Joseph's last Thursday; and Carlos Rivera hit a three-pointer with 2:14 left in against SJU to give Hofstra a 57-46 lead - at that point its largest of the game."It just lets us know how much better the program is getting," Hofstra senior guard Loren Stokes said. Seems like St. John's (9-4) is going in the opposite direction, despite its record. Seniors Daryll Hill and Lamont Hamilton have never beaten the mid-major Pride and if the Red Storm doesn't make the postseason this year - Big East tournament included - neither Hill nor Hamilton will have played a single playoff game in their collegiate careers.Lamont Hamilton (22 points, 11 rebounds) did dominate the Pride's bigs inside, but he got no help on offense from his teammates. St. John's shot 34 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three. Leading scorer Avery Patterson was held to only three points."I don't like to lose, period," Lawrence said. "Regardless of who it is."Reach reporter Marc Raimondi by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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