The Red Storm goes for the NIT Season Tip-Off title on Friday facing off with No. 10/8 Gonzaga (5-0) in the championship bout. St. John’s dominated the second half in its semifinal match up with Minnesota, outscoring the Gophers by 18 to roll to a 70-61 victory Wednesday and improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2009-10. ESPN2 will carry the championship game live from Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m.
The Red Storm rallied behind its veteran leadership to erase a nine point halftime deficit and advance to the championship round of the 30-year old regular-season tournament for the second time in six appearances. D’Angelo Harrison scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half to go with nine rebounds and a career-high six steals, while Rysheed Jordan (18) and Chris Obekpa (10) also recorded double-figures in the scoring column. Sir’Dominic Pointer continued to play at an elite level in all facets of his game finishing with eight points (4-of-6 FG), 11 rebounds, five steals, three assists and a block.
St. John’s has another tall task at hand when the Red Storm squares off with the nationally-ranked Bulldogs. Gonzaga earned an 88-76 victory over Georgia in the second semifinal Wednesday. The Johnnies have not allowed more than 61 points in the last two games, and will look to slow down the high-octane Gonzaga offense that has averaged 93.4 points this season. The programs meet for the first time since the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Announcers Ryan Ruocco and Dan Dakich will call the championship game on ESPN2 with Jeff Goodman sideline reporting. A national radio broadcast will air on Westwood One and the St. John’s radio team of John Minko and Brandon Tierney can be heard on 970 AM (WNYM)
Things To Know
- After a game-high 19 point performance versus Minnesota on Wednesday, D’Angelo Harrison increased his career scoring total to 1,675 which is the third highest among active NCAA Division I players. BYU’s Tyler Haws is the only active 2,000-point scorer and Stanford’s Chasson Randle is next on the list with 1,756 career points. Harrison is also sixth in Division I with a 17.4 scoring average through 96 games and fourth with 464 free-throws made.
- St. John’s last defeated a ranked opponent on Feb. 9, 2014 rolling to a 70-65 victory over No. 12/12 Creighton at Madison Square Garden. D’Angelo Harrison led the Red Storm with 19 points shooting 9-for-10 at the line, while Chris Obekpa chipped in 11 points. The last time the Red Storm defeated a top-10 ranked team was on Feb. 19, 2011 knocking off No. 4/4 Pitt, 60-59, at The Garden.
- St. John’s went with the same starting lineup for the fourth straight game on Wednesday versus Minnesota (Harrison, Jordan, Greene IV, Pointer, Obekpa), and each starter logged 32 minutes or more. All five starters also finished with at least eight points and five rebounds for the second time this season. The Red Storm tallied 16 steals versus the Gophers, the most in at least a decade, and forced a season-high 20 turnovers.
- Junior Chris Obekpa swatted three shots in St. John’s victory over Minnesota increasing his career total to 244, which is the second highest among active players in the NCAA. He trails only Louisiana Tech senior Michale Kyser who has 273 career blocks. Obekpa is the active leader in NCAA Division I for blocked shot average with 3.54 per game.
- Sir’Dominic Pointer unleashed another dominant all-around performance in the Red Storm’s victory over Minnesota. Pointer posted eight points, 11 rebounds, five steals, three assists and one block. In the last two games, Pointer has hit 12-of-16 field goal attempts (75.0 pct) and he is averaging nearly a double-double (13.0 points, 9.5 rebounds). He set career-highs on Nov. 19 with 18 points and six blocks to go with eight rebounds in a win over LIU Brooklyn.
2014 NIT Season Tip-Off Notes
- St. John’s and No. 10/8 Gonzaga will meet for the fifth time in series history. The programs last met on March 17, 2011 in the NCAA Tournament, Steve Lavin’s first season at St. John’s. The Red Storm is 1-3 all-time versus Gonzaga in a series that began in 1960.
- The Red Storm earned a 70-61 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday to earn its second appearance in the NIT Season Tip-Off Championship Game. St. John’s improved to 14-6 over six appearances in the annual event.
- St. John’s defeated Franklin Pierce (Nov. 17) and LIU Brooklyn (Nov. 19) at Carnesecca Arena in the opening rounds of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
- The Red Storm participated in the NIT Season Tip-Off in 1985 (Third Place), 1989 (Second Place), 1993, 1998 (Fourth Place) and 2008.
- St. John’s goes for its first regular-season tournament title since winning the 2010 Great Alaska Shootout. In his first season at the helm, Steve Lavin led the Red Storm to victories over Ball State, Drake and Arizona State to win the championship.
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