St. John's is starting to play its best basketball of the season and— despite scoring a basket for the visiting team— held off a frenetic come-back by Notre Dame to post its first victory over a ranked team this season.
Even if the Red Storm wasn't perfect for 40 minutes, they definitely played their best first half in 2012.
The Red Storm won their third straight game by shocking the 20th-ranked Fighting Irish, 61-58, in Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon.
St. John's (13-16, 6-10) had lost 10 consecutive games against ranked opponents this season when— with three minutes to go and a 56-52 lead— a missed shot by Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton was inadvertently tipped in by St. John's Sir'Dominic Pointer to close the gap to two points.
It looked like another Red Storm collapse was inevitable.
Notre Dame's Jack Cooley was credited with the score, but replays showed he never even touched the ball— it was all Pointer.
It was a bucket that the Red Storm couldn't afford to give the visiting team. St. John's went more than five minutes without scoring a field goal and were up only 57-56 with 44 seconds left after Notre Dame scored on an inbounds pass.
Notre Dame (20-9, 12-4) stormed back from a double-digit deficit and had momentum on its side. Only Amir Garret's drive through traffic in the lane with no time on the shot clock and only 8.9 seconds left saved the game for the Johnnies. Garret's runner clinched the victory and snapped the Fighting Irish's nine-game win streak.
Notre dame's Alex Dragevich missed a long three-point shot at the end of the game.
Moe Harkless— the freshman phenom— finished with 22 points and nine rebounds. D'Angelo Harrison had 15 points and Garret had 11. Cooley and Scott Martin finished with 18 apiece for the Irish.
Both coaching staffs sported blue bow ties to help raise awareness of prostate cancer. St. John's head coach Steve Lavin is still recovering from surgery for the disease.