By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor – @JESchott19
Rutgers came into Madison Square Garden and held on down the stretch for a 58-56 win over St. John’s on Wednesday night. St John’s is 1-2 in Big East play, and each game has been tight, with an overtime loss in Villanova, a one-point win in Cincinnati and this two-point loss. The Red Storm is 9-6 overall.
Rutgers set the tone early, opening up a 13-2 lead on a Mike Poole three-pointer with13:29 left in the first half.
The Red Storm responded with a 16-4 run over the next six minutes capped off by a JaKarr Sampson dunk.
Later, St. John’s closed the half on a 7-0 run with Phil Greene IV making a three-pointer and D’Angelo Harrison hitting a late jumper to make it 27-23 Red Storm at the half. Harrison had 10 first-half points on 4-for-9 shooting.
Rutgers opened the second half with a bang, as Myles Mack hit a three-pointer followed by a Dane Miller tip-in to make it 28-27 Rutgers.
This began a see-saw battle in the second half, exemplified by the fact there were five ties and 14 lead changes in the game.
The largest lead Rutgers had was 44-39 with 9:28 left, and St. John’s followed with an 8-0 run capped off by two JaKarr Sampson baskets.
The reason St. John’s could not get a lead down the stretch was that D’Angelo Harrison’s last basket came on a jumper with 9:12 left. Harrison got to the free throw line 12 times in the second half, and missed four of them, which loomed large.
The biggest miss came when Harrison got to the free throw line with 33 seconds left and St. John’s down 55-53. He missed the first one, and since the shot clock was turned off, they had to foul, so they never tied it.
Mike Poole was at the line for Rutgers with six seconds left, and hit the first one to make it 58-56, and missed the second. St. John’s raced to the other end, and JaKarr Sampson missed an open three that would have given them the win.
WATCH Video of Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice on the win: