EditorsNote: tweaked final graf
Junior wing LJ Figueroa scored 21 points, and St. John’s held on to upset No. 16 Arizona 70-67 on Saturday night at the Al Attles Classic in Chase Center in San Francisco.
Trailing by one, Arizona’s Nico Mannion missed a 3-point attempt with 30 seconds left and then a runner from the right side with about six seconds left, with the rebound ending up in the hands of Greg Williams Jr. Arizona fouled Julian Champagnie with 0.2 seconds left, and he made both free throws for the final margin.
The Red Storm (11-2) built an early lead off their defense and survived cold shooting en route to their seventh consecutive victory. Rasheem Dunn added 14 points for St. John’s, which shot 35 percent for the game and 28 percent in the second half.
Freshman power forward Zeke Nnaji posted his fourth double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds for Arizona (10-3), which lost its second in a row. Mannion had 19 points on 6-of-15 shooting.
St. John’s forced eight turnovers in about the first 10 minutes and was up 40-26 at halftime. After briefly pushing it to 16 to open the second half, the Red Storm twice got the lead back to 15, the latter time at the 10:41 mark.
Arizona mounted a comeback with the help of its free-throw shooting, hitting 11 of 12 at one point. Two free throws from Nnaji brought Arizona within 65-62 with 2:24 left.
Mannion’s steal and layup — Arizona’s first basket in more than six minutes — made it 65-64 before Dunn made one from the foul line at 1:38.
Max Hazzard answered with a 3-pointer for the Wildcats’ first lead of the game at 67-66 before Nick Rutherford’s driving layup 20 seconds later put St. John’s back on top. Mannion missed a 3-pointer at the other end, but Arizona got the rebound to set up its last possession.
The Red Storm pulled off the win without senior guard Mustapha Heron (15.0 points per game), who missed his second consecutive game because of a sprained ankle.
St. John’s full-court press and aggressive defense was the early story as it built a 25-11 lead. The Red Storm finished the half on a 6-0 run, with the final points coming when Figueroa beat the horn by banking in a running, 15-foot scoop shot.
—Field Level Media