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Hatten soars as St. John’s holds off UConn

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Marcus Hatten did what his teammates could not Saturday night, he put the game away, as the St. John’s University men’s basketball team upset the University of Connecticut Huskies, 85-83, in overtime.

The junior college transfer went to the charity stripe 25 times and connected on a Big East record 21 free throws for the Red Storm. Hatten hit 3-of-4 with the game in the balance in the final 30 seconds of overtime to win it for the Johnnies, as well as putting home a beautiful finger-roll layup with 1:11 remaining to make it 80-77.

“He is just incredible,” said St. John’s head coach Mike Jarvis. “I hope one of these days I can get him to play at the beginning of the game, in the middle of the game, like he plays at the end.”

Hatten scored a career-high 34 points, despite hitting just 6-of-26 from the field, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out six assists and snatched two steals in the win. It was a virtuoso performance by the player who has almost single-handedly kept the Red Storm (16-7, 6-5) in the running for an NCAA Tournament bid.

Hatten nearly won the game at the end of regulation after Connecticut’s Caron Butler hit three free throws with 5.1 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 72. Butler, who finished with a team-high 29 points and 15 rebounds, was fouled by Donald Emanuel while shooting from behind the arc.

Emanuel’s gaff — coupled with two missed free throws by senior Anthony Glover seconds earlier — allowed the Huskies (15-6, 7-3), who trailed by as many as 12 in the second half, to draw even with St. John’s for the first time since the game was knotted at 10-10 with 12:41 remaining in the first half.

Hatten took the inbound pass and drove the length of the floor, getting off a decent shot just before time expired, but the ball bounced clear of the rim, giving UConn new life in the extra period.

“I felt if we lost the game, it would have been my fault,” Emanuel said. “Caron’s an excellent player and I didn’t want him to make that shot.”

Luckily for Emanuel, Hatten was there to bail him and the rest of St. John’s out of the jam.

Queens native Taliek Brown, who finished with 12 points, six assists and four rebounds, gave the Huskies their first lead of the game when he scored 35 seconds into overtime, making the score 74-73.

St. John’s did not lead again until freshman Eric King scored with 1:55 remaining to make the score 78-77. Hatten’s sweet drive moments later pushed the lead to three and the Huskies got no closer until Caron’s putback at the buzzer.

“It was a gutty, gutty victory,” Jarvis said. “Forget about stats, this game is won by the team that scores the most points.”

The game started at breakneck speed, as both teams raced up and down the court and the Red Storm jumped out to an 8-2 lead. UConn drew even eight minutes in at 10-10, but St. John’s established itself as the dominant team the rest of the first half, as a host of players contributed offensively and defensively. Sharif Fordham continued his strong play around the basket, while King and walk-on Andre Stanley — both of whom finished with 10 points — continued to shine on both ends of the floor.

The game swung when the Red Storm took an 11-point lead, following back-to-back technicals on UConn coach Jim Calhoun, who was ejected from the game. Hatten hit four straight from the free throw line, followed by Emanuel hitting two-of-two, turning a 27-22 lead, into a 33-22 advantage with 5:04 remaining in the first half.

UConn never got closer than five the remainder of the half.

The Red Storm will host Virginia Tech at 4 p.m. Saturday at Alumni Hall, followed by a date with the Boston College Eagles Monday at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m.

Miami 79, St. John's 56. The Red Storm shot a woeful 17-fot-57 from the field Wednesday night and only one player, Emanuel, finished in double figures with 10.Hatten, Glover and King scored eight points each as SJU fell to 16-8 overall and 6-6 in the Big East. Miami, ranked No. 11 nationally, raised its record to 21-4 overall and 8-4 in conference play.

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

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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