St. John's builds just enough of a lead to knock off West Virginia
Joel Soriano scored a career-high 24 points and added nine rebounds and three blocks as visiting St. John's made enough plays down the stretch to defeat West Virginia 79-73 in Morgantown, W.Va., in a Big East-Big 12 Battle contest Friday night.
St. John's (5-2) won its third straight and survived foul trouble on Soriano, committing 30 fouls and a 43-20 free throw disparity.
Soriano scored 17 points in the first half and the Red Storm relied on others to step up down the stretch. Chris Ledlum added 17 and 10 rebounds before fouling out with 2:43 left. Nahiem Alleyne added 12 of his 14 in the second half, including two big shots in the final 93 seconds.
Soriano shot 8-of-11 and also made 7-of-12 free throws as St. John's shot 42 percent and missed 20 of 27 of their 3-point tries.
Quinn Slazinski, who played for Rick Pitino at Iona, scored 19 points, but West Virginia (3-4) shot 39.6 percent. Jesse Edwards added 15 and Kobe Johnson finished with 14 for the Mountaineers, who nearly erased a nine-point deficit in the final five minutes.
After a competitive opening half saw the teams deadlocked at 36-36, St. John's began to gain separation midway through the second half.
The Red Storm opened a 53-47 lead on a 3-pointer by Glenn Taylor Jr. with 12:31 left, and extended it to 61-53 on Soriano's 3-point play with 6:57 left.
Soriano's putback made it 63-54, but West Virginia roared back with a 14-7 spurt and trailed 70-68 when Slazinski banked in a jumper over Soriano with 2:01 left.
Alleyne made it 72-68 by getting his own rebound of a missed trey and converting a putback with 1:33 left.
After Slazinski split a pair at the line with 1:19 seconds, Taylor hit a layup for a five-point game and Alleyne sank a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left to make it 77-70 and effectively clinch the win.
--Field Level Media
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