LJ Figueroa scored 22 points and St. John’s rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half to stun No. 13 Villanova 71-65 on Sunday night.
The Red Storm (19-7, 7-6 Big East) were down 48-34 with 12:30 left. St. John’s scored 20 of the next 25 points to take its first lead on Figueroa’s 3-pointer from the corner that brought the sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden to its feet. During that run, Villanova coach Jay Wright was hit with a technical foul for arguing a call.
The teams traded the lead over the next few minutes before Figueroa hit another 3-pointer that gave the Red Storm a 58-57 advantage with 3:12 left that started an 8-0 run.
The Red Storm led 63-57 with 50 seconds left when Villanova’s Phil Booth was fouled shooting a 3-pointer. He made 2 of 3 free throws to get the Wildcats within four.
That’s as close as they could get as St. John’s converted its free throws down the stretch. The win snapped a 12-game losing streak for St. John’s against Villanova at Madison Square Garden dating back 17 years.
Joe Cremo scored 14 points to lead Villanova (20-6, 11-2) while Eric Paschall added 11 points and 14 rebounds.
The game was a little bit of revenge for the Red Storm, who lost to Villanova by five after blowing an 11-point second-half lead on Jan. 8.
The Wildcats jumped all over the Red Storm early on, outscoring them 29-10 over the first 12 minutes. During that stretch, the Red Storm went without a basket for 7:39.
The lead ballooned from seven to 19 in that spurt which was capped by Paschall’s 3-pointer with 8:50 left in the half. Shamorie Ponds finally ended the drought with a putback with 5:58 left before intermission.
St. John’s scored the final six points of the half, closing to within 11 when Simon banked in a 3-pointer just before the buzzer from the opposite 3-point line that made it 37-26. It was the only 3-pointer of the half for St. John’s, which had missed its first nine attempts from beyond the arc.
TIP-INS: Ponds had 11 points on 2-of-13 shooting. … The 26 points was the lowest that St. John’s has scored in the first half this season, surpassing the 27 points the team had against Butler. … Marvin Clark II hit a 3-pointer to start the second half and cross the 1,000-point career mark. It was his first basket of the game. … St. John’s is 3-1 this season in the conference against the top two teams — Marquette and Villanova.
Villanova: At Georgetown on Wednesday.
St. John’s: At Providence on Wednesday.