Saturday, December 22, 2012

UNC Asheville 72, St. John's 65: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Bruce Hornsby's son Keith proved that he couldn't make St. John's fans love him, as UNC Asheville's sophomore guard scored 14 points, including game-winning three-pointer in Bulldogs' 72-65 upset of Red Storm at Carnesecca Arena.

St. John's guard D'Angelo Harrison (24 points, 4 rebounds) on St. John's second-half collapse:
"We're definitely frustrated because we had a 17-point lead.  We should have capitalized on that.  This one hurts.  We're going to get back to the drawing board.  We've got Villanova first, (in Big East play) and our job is to take care of them."

Guard Phil Greene (4 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) on the collapse:
"We had to come together so we could put those guys away, and we just didn't.  We missed assignments.  All the little things it takes to win, we didn't do."

Head coach Steve Lavin's opening statement:
"We knew we had our hands full.  We just didn't handle prosperity well.  They did great things...they attacked the rim well, they were opportunistic.  It's a painful way for us to learn, but there are a lot of takeaways from this one."

Lavin on not being able to close the game down the stretch:
"If we could sustain, we'd be 11-1 and probably ranked 15th in the country.  We didn't expect to be up 17 on these guys.  I was pleasantly surprised, but concerned when we couldn't put them away.  Even though we built a 17-point lead, I never felt comfortable.  We never found a rhythm defensively.  You've got to finish, whether it's Mariano Rivera or the two-minute warning in football"

On UNC Asheville:
"We knew coming in that this team took Syracuse to the wire. (as a No. 16 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament) In fact, we watched that game before the tip tonight.  They have a winning championship culture, they expect to win, they expect to compete in the postseason."

On possible adjustments before St. John's Big East opener against Villanova at The Pavilion on January 2nd:
"We're 8-4, but I think we've learned a lot through our nonconference schedule.  I think with the way we play, we need to rotate bodies.  I think we're doing a better job, but it's just across the board.  There really isn't one aspect of play from A to Z that we don't need to work on."

Nuggets of Note:
- This loss was eerily reminiscent of past St. John's second-half meltdowns, such as January 2008 at Carnesecca Arena against DePaul, where the Red Storm allowed a 16-0 DePaul run midway through the second half that decided the game, January of 2010 at Madison Square Garden against West Virginia; and most notably, the December 2010 upset loss at Rose Hill Gym in which Fordham erased a 21-point lead with two 16-0 runs in the final stanza.

- UNC Asheville's run was a 23-4 spurt in a span of 7:37, starting with the Bulldogs trailing 54-42 with 12:10 remaining in regulation and culminating with a breakaway dunk from Keith Hornsby (son of the great pianist Bruce, who ended the night with 14 points) to make 65-58 Bulldogs with 4:33 to go in the second half.

- After St. John's scored seven unanswered points to tie the game at 65, Hornsby struck again with 1:30 left on the clock, knocking down a three-pointer straight away to give UNC Asheville the lead for good, putting the Bulldogs ahead 68-65 before using four free throws to provide the final margin of victory after St. John's two chances to tie and pull within three resulted in turnovers on each possession.  As the Bonnie Raitt song that Hornsby's father played piano on and eventually covered numerous times live goes, he can't make you love him if you don't.

- Hornsby wasn't the biggest thorn in St. John's side, as his teammate Jeremy Atkinson exploded for a career-high 31 points, 23 of which came in the second half.  Atkinson, the Bulldogs' leading scorer, also finished with nine rebounds as the Red Storm gave up a big game just as they did with Joel Smith in last year's upset loss at home to Northeastern.

- UNC Asheville's win was their first against a Big East program, coming in their 15th attempt.

- On the bright side for St. John's, D'Angelo Harrison's team-high 24 points marked the ninth contest of the twelve that the Johnnies have played in which the sophomore from Texas has eclipsed the 20-point plateau.  Speaking of the Lone Star State, the Red Storm finally welcomed former Texas A&M guard Jamal Branch into the fold last night after the sophomore had sat out the first semester after transferring at the beginning of the calendar year.  In fourteen minutes, Branch showed several flashes of brilliance despite finishing with just two points and two assists.

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