Jan. 3, 2009
NEW YORK (AP) – Paris Horne was there every time Kyle McAlarney turned around or went around a screen.
That defensive performance was enough to give St. John’s a chance at an upset, and the Red Storm came through with a 71-65 victory over No. 7 Notre Dame on Saturday.
Horne’s tenacious, high-energy effort on the Fighting Irish’s 3-point specialist set the tone for what is easily St. John’s biggest win of the season.
“I tried not to let him catch the ball and get off those easy shots he does,” Horne said. “I just followed him and tried to get around every screen. He saw me a lot. I just did what I had to do”
D. J. Kennedy scored 20 points, including four free throws in the final 15 seconds, and had 10 rebounds for the Red Storm (10-4, 1-1 Big East). St. John’s ended a three-game losing streak by holding Notre Dame to one of its worst 3-point shooting games of the season. The Fighting Irish went 4-for-17, including a 1-for-5 day by McAlarney.
“Paris is one of our best wing defenders,” Kennedy said. “Before the game I talked to Paris and told him (McAlarney) was going to make some shots but you just have to keep getting a hand in his face and make it hard for him. I think Paris did a great job of contesting all of his shots.”
Luke Harangody had 28 points and 14 rebounds for the Fighting Irish (10-3, 1-1), who had won four straight.
“It was just a physical game, a Big East game,” said Harangody, the reigning conference player of the year. “Our guys are going to make those shots down the road so I’m comfortable with that.”
The Red Storm took the lead for good at 52-50 on a rebound basket by Justin Burrell with 11:30 to play that started an 8-0 run.
Tory Jackson’s 3-pointer with 17 seconds left got the Fighting Irish within 67-65. But Kennedy, a 66 percent free-throw shooter entering the game, made two with 15 seconds left and followed another missed 3 by Notre Dame with two more with 5.4 seconds remaining for the final margin.
“They were very aware of hugging our shooters and we had to work so hard to get looks,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “Luke Harangody’s a warrior and he kept us in it and we made a couple of plays down the end to stay in it, but give them credit.”
Burrell had 18 points for St. John’s and Horne added 14.
Jackson had 14 points for the Fighting Irish, who came in shooting 41.8 percent from 3-point range and averaged 9.8 3s a game.
McAlarney had 10 points. He came in shooting 41.4 percent from 3-point range and averaging 4.3 3s a game. He missed his first three Saturday before making his only one with 12:24 to play, tying the game at 48.
“Give them credit, they did a great job of extending the 3-point line and taking away any good looks,” McAlarney said.
This was St. John’s sixth win over a ranked team in Norm Roberts’ five seasons as coach, all at Madison Square Garden. The highest-ranked team to fall to the Red Storm before was No. 9 Pittsburgh on Jan. 21, 2007.
Roberts was asked if this was the best win of his tenure that has seen the Red Storm go 58-71.
“Probably because of us being depleted a little bit and having the young guys step up,” he said, referring to starting point guard Malik Boothe missing his third straight game after having surgery on his left thumb. “In this league you’ve got to be ready to play No. 2, No. 3, No. 16. There are so many good teams. We want our guys to stay focused and not give up. You can’t put your head down. You have to fight through adversity.
“I told them there was no miracle stuff that happened out there. We committed 18 turnovers. There was no us making 12 3s. It was just us playing hard and not giving up.”