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January 16, 2011

St. John's Thumps Irish on Retake

NEW YORK (AP) D.J. Kennedy and Malik Boothe both scored 14 points and St. John's beat No. 9 Notre Dame 72-54 on Sunday, reversing the outcome of their game eight days ago.

The Red Storm (11-5, 4-2 Big East) lost 76-61 at Notre Dame last Saturday, shooting just 38.2 percent from the field while the Fighting Irish (14-4, 3-3) shot 51 percent.

The numbers this time were about as different as they can get in a second meeting.

"Our schemes and approach - and this is the mystery of sports that keeps coaches scratching their heads - our scouting report didn't change from last week but our execution was at a higher level and we were able to dictate the game and impose our will on Notre Dame," St. John's coach Steve Lavin said.

St. John's, which trailed 45-22 at halftime last Saturday, led this game 26-19 at halftime, holding the Irish to a school-record low four field goals in the opening 20 minutes.

Things didn't change much in the second half as St. John's continued to play strong perimeter defense. They held the Irish, who entered shooting 36.9 percent from beyond the arc, to 3 for 15 (20 percent) for the game.

Ben Hansbrough, who had a career-high 26 points in the first meeting, led Notre Dame with 18 points.

This was the fourth of eight straight games against ranked teams for the Red Storm. They started the run with a win over Georgetown, then lost to Notre Dame and Syracuse.

This is the first time St. John's has beaten two ranked teams in a season since 2005-06, when they defeated Louisville and Pittsburgh.

St. John's, one of the Big East's worst 3-point shooting teams at 30 percent, finished 4 for 9 (44.4 percent) from 3-point range, including one by Kennedy that was the biggest of the game for the Red Storm.

Notre Dame got within 37-31 with 13:18 left on a breakaway dunk by Hansbrough that capped a 6-0 run. The crowd of 8,550 at Madison Square Garden started to sense things were going to turnaround. But Kennedy hit his only 3-point attempt of the game 21 seconds later to restore the lead to nine points.

St. John's biggest lead was 55-36 on a drive by Dwight Hardy with 6:28 to play. Notre Dame went on a 10-2 run to get within 11, but Kennedy hit a hurried bank shot and was fouled for a three-point play with 4:15 remaining.

Notre Dame shot 41 percent for the game (16 of 39), but the Red Storm finished at 48.9 percent.

The Irish committed 20 turnovers, nine over their season average.

"This was real big for us, to bounce back from two losses," said Boothe. "We were more focused on getting a big payback win. Last week we really didn't play our best. Against Syracuse we had a good 12 minutes and then they had their way. We played a hard-fought 40 minutes and got the win."


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