Rasheem Dunn always imagined what it would be like to be on this court with this team. He took in a few St. John’s games when he was at St. Francis Brooklyn, watched high school teammate Shamorie Ponds light up the Garden and dreamed about what that must feel like.
The Cleveland State transfer got to experience it Saturday afternoon, making the two winning plays in the Red Storm’s biggest win of the season, a gutsy 70-68 victory over West Virginia in the Holiday Festival.
Dunn’s two free throws with five seconds left, after he had stripped Derek Culver on the other end, saved St. John’s from a late-game collapse that saw them blow a nine-point lead in the final minutes.
Dunn’s final line — 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, four assists and four turnovers – wasn’t nearly as impressive as his late-game heroics. St. John’s was reeling, and Dunn wouldn’t let them lose, as the Red Storm notched their first win of the year over a top-100 foe, according to KenPom’s rankings.
LJ Figueroa led St. John’s with 17 points and Nick Rutherford added 11. Sean McNeil had 13 for West Virginia, which suffered its first loss of the season.
With stars Mustapha Heron and Figueroa on the bench in foul trouble, the bench went on an 8-0 run that included a Greg Williams Jr. 3-pointer as the shot clock expired. That extended a nine-point lead at the under-12 timeout. Williams pushed the lead to 10 with 10:36 to go, before West Virginia reeled off five straight points, forcing a St. John’s timeout with 9:15 remaining.
The lead was nine, following a Josh Roberts tip-in with 4:28 left, before St. John’s went cold and began wilting under the West Virginia pressure. McNeil pulled the Mountaineers even with 1:13 to go. After Rutherford was blocked on the other end, West Virginia had a chance to go ahead. But Culver was stripped following an offensive rebound and Dunn got to the line on a drive around a double pick-and-roll, making two free throws to send St. John’s to a significant early-season win.
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