NEWARK, N.J. — St. John’s coach Steve Lavin called the performance of Seton Hall’s Sterling Gibbs “as close to a masterpiece for a leader and a point guard that you can have.”
Gibbs, a junior, had 25 points and eight assists and didn’t commit a turnover in Seton Hall’s 78-67 win over No. 15 St. John’s in the Big East opener at the Prudential Center on Wednesday.
The loss ended St. John’s seven-game win streak and improved Seton Hall (11-2) to 7-0 at home.
Guard Jared Sina scored 14 points, forward Angel Delgado added 13 points and 12 rebounds and forward Brandon Mobley chipped in with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Pirates.
Seton Hall was 10 of 23 from 3-point range. Gibbs and Sina were a combined 9 of 15 from beyond the arc. Gibbs entered the game eighth in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage at 38.2 percent. He was 5 of 7 against St. John’s.
The Pirates employed an unselfish brand, accumulating 18 assists in 23 made shots en route to stopping a three-game losing streak to their cross-Hudson River rivals.
“I thought the ball-sharing was terrific,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “That was our biggest worry going into the game because they (Red Storm) had been turning people over.”
Guard D’Angelo Harrison topped St. John’s (11-2) with 25 points, but he fouled out with 1:35 left in the game and Seton Hall leading 74-65.
St. John’s was off to its best start since the 1985-86 season when it went on to win 31 games.
The Red Storm were just 1 of 10 from the floor in the final 3:55 of the game.
Gibbs’ 3-pointer from the top of the key as the shot clock expired moved Seton Hall’s lead to 70-63 with 4:17 left and his uncontested layup with 2:09 to play increased the lead to 72-65.
“Sterling Gibbs played one of the better games than any player has played against St. John’s in recent years,” Lavin said. “He picked his spots when to knock down daggers, but he also executed well against our traps and found open teammates for the three balls and at the rim.
“He just exhibited great poise, he was in the zone. His play-making and his poise in crunch time was the difference. He’s clearly the central nervous system for Seton Hall.”
The Red Storm never led in the second half and trailed by as many as 14 points but went on an 8-0 run to get it to 65-63 with 5:21 remaining. A traditional three-point play from guard Jamal Branch was key in the spurt.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we gave it back,” Willard said. “But this is the first time we have been in a close game since George Washington (a 58-54 win). The older guys settled everyone else down to finish the game.”
Sina’s third 3-pointer of the game gave the Pirates a 58-44 with 10:14 left and his trey with 8:23 to go moved their lead to 61-50.
“Early in the game, we were a little stagnant,” Sina said. “We were afraid to attack. In the second half, we were finding gaps and knocking down shots.”
Seton Hall was 6 of 12 from 3-point range in the second half.
The Pirates increased their lead to 53-43 with 12:20 left in the game. Mobley contributed five points to start the second half for the Pirates.
Seton Hall took its first lead of the half at 37-35 on a 3-pointer from Sina with 56 seconds left before intermission. Gibbs added a 3-pointer with seven seconds left for a 40-35 Pirates halftime lead.
“I think it was important that Jaren made that shot,” Willard said. “That got his confidence going a little bit and then gave us the weapon that he is on the court.”
Sina scored nine points in the second half.
The first half was tightly contested, with the score tied on five occasions. The Red Storm never led by more than six points in the half. Both teams shot 50 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes.
NOTES: Seton Hall F Angel Delgado was named the Big East Rookie of the Week. Delgado ranks
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