February 24, 1999
By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Lavor Postell minced no words in describing the first 20
minutes of No. 8 St. John's 73-53 victory over Notre Dame on Wednesday night.
"That was the worst first half ever," Postell said. "We got things
together. We ususally don't miss easy layups and open 3s. We made them in the
The Red Storm (23-6, 14-3 Big East) pulled away from a 28-26 halftime lead
that they managed despite shooting 26 percent, getting outrebounded 23-22 and
committing six turnovers.
Postell and Tyrone Grant each had 13 points in the second half and both
finished with 19. St. John's, which shot 56 percent in the second half, also
turned the rebounding around to a 46-35 advantage, including 17-8 on the
"I thought this was more of a game about age and experience rather than
talent," St. John's coach Mike Jarvis said. "We had the bad half and
hopefully we have it out of the way now."
The Red Storm are tied with No. 11 Miami for second place in the Big East,
one game behind No. 4 Connecticut, and still have a chance to tie for the
St. John's plays at Villanova on Saturday, while Miami plays host to
Rutgers. Connecticut closes the season on Sunday at No. 24 Syracuse. By virtue
of the tiebreakers the Red Storm cannot finish with the top seeding.
"It's always time to play your best," Jarvis said. "Teams that are
relaxed or trying to pace themselves are taking a chance of getting hurt."
Postell had five points in a 14-4 run to open the second half that gave St.
John's a 42-30 lead with 13:48 to play. Notre Dame (13-15, 7-10), which was
playing without injured starting guard Martin Inglesby, got within 48-42 on a
drive by Antoni Wyche with 9:15 left, but the Red Storm went on a 16-4 run that
was capped by Postell's 3-pointer with 3:31 to play.
"Their great defensive pressure took us out of what we wanted to do,"
Notre Dame coach John MacLeod said. "That is a sign of a very good team. They
are deep and impressive. In the first half we were OK. In the second half they
Postell had 13 rebounds and Grant added 12.
"We must have had eight shots go in and out in the first half and that
didn't help," Jarvis said. "When you start to make those, as we did in the
second half, good things start to happen."
Erick Barkley had 14 points for St. John's, which finished the regular
season with a 5-5 record at Madison Square Garden, the site of next week's Big
The 14 conference victories mark the most for St. John's since it went 14-2
Freshman Troy Murphy, the conference's No. 4 scorer at 18.9 and leading
rebounder at 9.7, had 22 points and seven rebounds for the Fighting Irish, who
have lost four of five. Murphy was coming off a season-high 32 points against
West Virginia on Sunday.
"We just didn't have the same juice in the second half," MacLeod said.
"Their pressure made us work harder than we wanted to."