St. John's storms past Arizona State to Shootout title

November 27, 2010 

St. John's head coach Steve Lavin said he couldn't be happier to be back coaching after his seven-year stint as a basketball broadcaster with ESPN.

His goal of rebuilding eight-time Big East champions St. John's back to prominence after nearly a decade of declining play, gained some momentum Saturday night with a 67-58 win over Arizona State in the championship game at the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout in Sullivan Arena.

"This is just another baby step in that climb up the Big East ladder," said Lavin.

Lavin said he's always looking for ways to win over the fans in Queens, New York. The Shootout provided an opportunity to learn about his players, his coaches and, as it turned out, pick up some nice hardware in the process.

The game actually began in favor of Arizona State with senior guard Ty Abbott hitting two quick 3-pointers and senior Rihards Kuksiks hitting another to build a 9-2 lead, a lead they would add to until halftime.

The Red Storm overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and made nine of their ten steals in second half to fuel a late 24-4 run.

"We went small," said Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament Justin Brownlee. "We had a lot of foot speed on the court."

Two of the biggest steals came from one of the Red Storm's smallest players, 5-foot-11 sophomore Malik Stith. He made two consecutive steals, converting each into two points and giving St. John's a 53-51 lead, their first since they led 2-0.

About a minute later, Stith fired a desperate 3-pointer as the shot-clock buzzer sounded, and it banked in off the glass to make it 58-53. The sequence was part of a whirlwind of hustle and athleticism that left the Sun Devils virtually paralyzed.

"The guys just took the ball right away from us," said Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek. "We needed to make better decisions in some cases."

Sendek said his team had never seen such defensive pressure and it rattled the Sun Devils.

Behind Abbotts six 3-pointers and team-leading 22 points, Arizona State looked in control of the game up until that final seven minutes.

The Sun Devils were also able to use 7-2 freshman Jordan Bachynski for 19 minutes, his biggest workload of the tournament, to help break up the St. John's zone on occasion. Bachynski shot 3 for 4 and gathered four rebounds.

In the end, the Red Storm got to celebrate.

Lavin, who was the head coach at UCLA for seven years before moving to ESPN, said St. John's is a great fit for him, one he couldn't pass up.

"I missed the college campuses," he said. "I missed mentoring on a daily basis."

ST. JOHN'S (67) -- Polee 1-2 1-2 3, Kennedy 1-3 0-0 2, Brownlee 7-13 5-8 20, Boothe 1-2 2-4 4, Hardy 4-14 3-3 14, Evans 0-0 0-0 0, Horne 4-7 3-6 11, Burrell 1-1 1-2 3, Stith 4-10 1-2 10. Totals 23-52 16-27 67.

ARIZONA STATE (58) -- Cain 2-4 0-0 4, Kuksiks 2-3 2-2 8, Abbott 8-15 0-0 22, McMillan 1-5 2-2 5, Lockett 4-9 2-2 10, Felix 0-0 2-2 2, Hawkins 0-0 0-0 0, Dunson 0-0 0-0 0, Bachynski 3-4 1-2 7, Creekmur 0-3 0-0 0, King 0-3 0-2 0, Pateev 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-46 9-12 58.

St. John's 20 47 -- 67 Arizona State 30 28 -- 58

3-point goals -- SJU 5-18 (Polee 0-1, Kennedy 0-1, Brownlee 1-2, Hardy 3-9, Horne 0-1, Stith 1-4), ASU 9-25 (Kuksiks 2-3, Abbott 6-12, McMillan 1-4, Lockett 0-2, Creekmur 0-3, King 0-1). Total fouls -- SJU 16, ASU 25. Fouled out -- Cain. Rebounds -- SJU 29 (Kennedy 4, Brownlee 4), ASU 30 (Lockett 7). Turnovers -- SJU 8, ASU 17 (Kuksiks 3). Assists -- SJU 13 (Boothe 5), ASU 16 (McMillan 7). Steals -- SJU 10 (Stith 4), ASU 2. Blocks -- SJU 4, ASU 1. Officials -- Lehigh, Corson, Casas.

Carrs/safeway Great Alaska Shootout All-Tournament Team

Damian Lillard, Weber State

Matt Massey, Southern Utah

Taylor Rohde, UAA

Jarrod Jones, Ball State

Rayvonte Rice, Drake

Casey Robinson, UAA

Jamelle McMillan, Arizona State

Dwight Hardy, St. John's

D.J. Kennedy, St. John's

Trent Lockett, Arizona State

Most Outstanding Player

Justin Brownlee, St. John's

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