NEW YORK (AP) - Dwight Hardy knew how much St. John's needed a
win. He and his teammates had another thought on their minds as
well - ruin Lance Stephenson's homecoming.
Hardy matched his career high with 19 points, including the
tying and winning free throws in the final 8.5 seconds, and the Red
Storm snapped a three-game losing streak with a 52-50 victory over
Cincinnati and its heralded freshman on Wednesday night at Madison
"We just wanted to spoil his homecoming basically," Hardy
said. "They needed a win but we needed it more being that we
didn't have a win in Big East play. So we just wanted to get in his
head and keep him from scoring as many points as possible."
Stephenson struggled all game but it did seem he and the
Bearcats were going to be on the right end of the final score but
they couldn't get the ball inbounds in the final 10 seconds and
Hardy turned the two turnovers into the deciding free throws.
"Our guys really stayed tough at the end of the game and made
some huge plays," St. John's coach Norm Roberts said. "Hardy
stepped in there and made some plays."
Hardy stole a long inbounds pass by Rashad Bishop, was fouled
with 8.5 seconds left and made both free throws to tie the game at
He then stole another inbounds pass by Bishop - this one at the
free throw line - and was fouled as he went to shoot with 7.6
seconds left. Hardy made both free throws and Deonta Vaughn's 3 for
the win with a second left bounced off the rim.
Hardy finished 6 of 6 at the free throw line, while the Red
Storm (11-5, 1-3 Big East) were 11 of 20. Hardy came into the game
shooting 71 percent at the line.
"What we have to do, in the last 10 seconds, is not blow the
game," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. "They are a good team,
they have good players and are in a must-win situation. We met the
challenge and had the game won. I am not going to act like the sky
is falling. We had the game won. There are a lot of positives
except the last 10 seconds."
Yancy Gates had 12 points to lead the Bearcats (11-6, 2-3),
while Stephenson had seven points on 3-of-9 shooting, five assists
and six of Cincinnati's season-high 21 turnovers.
Stephenson, New York's all-time leading high school scorer with
2,946 points at Lincoln H.S., was booed by the St. John's fans in
the crowd every time he touched the ball.
"I don't worry about the crowd. I just play the game,"
Stephenson said. "You can't worry about the crowd, what they say
The Bearcats entered the game last in the 16-team Big East in
3-point shooting at 29.4 percent and they missed all 12 shots they
took behind the arc on Wednesday.
Stephenson lost for the first time at Madison Square Garden
after winning four New York City championship games here. The Red
Storm have played a lot more games than that here.
"Every time you win at the Garden, it's awesome. Every time you
win a Big East game, it's awesome. Because it's hard, very hard,"
Roberts said. "I keep telling my team that we're going to have to
grind out a win. ... Because we're really, really close. So I'm