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Seton Hall Pirates shoot down Hamilton, Storm, 71-54

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Watching the first half between St. John’s and Seton Hall Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, the 8,059 in attendance must have been wondering if the two basketball teams held their pre-game warm-ups on 33rd Street and 8th Avenue in the blistering cold.

It was sloppy. The Pirates and Red Storm missed a combined 46 shots in the first 20 minutes to go along with 17 personal fouls and 15 turnovers. Dunks were not going down, wide-open shots were rimming out and air-balls were being launched. The good stayed behind in the locker room, making room for the bad and the ugly.

Unlike the Johnnies, Seton Hall (11-2, 1-0) shook off its first-half troubles, as players corralled every loose ball, hit every open shot and attacked the glass, increasing their winning streak to eight games with a 71-54 victory.

“Every time we have been in the Garden against St. John’s it has been an ugly offensive game for us over the years,” said Seton Hall coach Louis Orr, who watched his team shoot 46 percent from the field in the second half, compared with 32 percent in the first stanza.

But it was the defensive pressure applied by SJU, not the SHU offensive scheme, that played a bigger role in the Pirates’ sluggish start.

“They just play scrappy — grabbing, pulling, pushing and they play hard,” said SHU senior guard Andre Barrett, who led all scorers with 21 points.

“You don’t realize that you are playing the same type of game as them, and that is what I think we did in the first half. We were playing their game.”

Holding the lead for only the first minute and a half, St. John’s (4-8, 0-2) dug itself an early hole for the ninth straight game, going into halftime down, 31-23. The eight-point deficit marked the 11th time in 12 games that the Red Storm has trailed at halftime (St. John’s sole advantage at halftime came in late November at Stony Brook — the Storm’s first win of the season).

Both teams came out on fire to start the second half, but after things cooled down, Seton Hall was able to pull away, leading by as many as 20 points in the final minutes.

With frustration and disappointment oozing out of him, St. John’s captain Andre Stanley had very little to say after the loss. “They just killed us,” the graduate student said. “They turned it up. We just shut it down.”

The lone bright spot for the Red Storm came via forward Lamont Hamilton, who scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 25 minutes.

“I just went out and played hard,” Hamilton said. “I just made a conscious decision that the team needed someone to battle down low and just tried to play hard.”

The backcourt tandem of Elijah Ingram (11 points) and Daryll “Showtime” Hill (9 points) had their woes. Ingram played with a hangover from his performance in the Red Storm’s 65-59 loss at Syracuse (1-12, 3 points) on Wednesday, only attempting eight shots and not scoring in the first half. And Hill committed seven turnovers to just four assists and needed 13-plus minutes to record his first basket.

Seton Hall capitalized off of St. John’s miscues, turning 15 turnovers into 25 points.

“I thought we played hard, but I don’t think we executed as well as we could have in key junctures of the game,” St. John’s interim coach Kevin Clark said. “We are going to look forward to our next day at practice and keep upbeat.”

After hosting Miami at Alumni Hall Wednesday night, St. John’s travels to Villanova on Sunday.

Syracuse 65, St. John’s 59. Reynolds registered a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, but it was not enough, as the No. 17 ranked Orangemen staved off the upset Jan. 7. Cuffe scored 12 with six boards and three blocks, while Hill added 12 points, five rebounds and five assists. Syracuse was led by Gerry McNamara with 23 points, Hakim Warrick with 18 points and 11 rebounds and Billy Edelin with 13 points.

Reach contributing writer Joseph Manniello by e-mail at timesledger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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