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St. John's hands No. 9 Pitt first loss of season

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Red Storm did in Pittsburgh -- and did the
Redmen proud.

On the day St. John's honored 10 former coaches and players who
were all at the school when it was using its old nickname, the Red
Storm knocked No. 9 Pittsburgh from the ranks of the unbeaten,
55-50 Saturday.

"This was a perfect day. Nobody could have written a script
like this," said Hall of Fame coach Lou Carnesecca, one of those
honored at a halftime ceremony.

The Red Storm are getting used to winning against ranked teams,
having beaten Louisville (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) 68-56 on Tuesday, also at Madison
Square Garden.

"We are not just playing for ourselves," St. John's guard
Daryll Hill said. "St. John's has that history and we are trying
to bring it back like it was before."

Lamont Hamilton matched his career high with 24 points,
including two free throws with 12 seconds left that gave the Red
Storm a 53-50 lead. His biggest moment of the day came in the
locker room after the game.

"Chris Mullin came in and said he was very proud of us for
representing the school the way we did," the junior center said of
the school's all-time leading scorer. "That meant a lot and made a
great day greater."

It was the first time the Panthers lost this season and it came
in their third straight road game.

"I'm upset. I'm a basketball player and a competitor, a person
who really doesn't like to lose," Pitt senior guard Carl Krauser
said. "We are all upset. We just didn't want to lose."

The Panthers (15-1, 4-1 Big East) came into the day as one of
three unbeaten teams in Division I along with No. 1 Duke and No. 2
Florida, both 17-0. Now, none are left. Duke lost, falling 87-84 at
Georgetown, and Tennessee upset Florida 80-76.

The win was third in a row for St. John's (10-6, 3-2), which was
9-18 last season, coach Norm Roberts' first.

"I think that this is a statement that we are improving and
that we are a tough basketball team," Roberts said. "Chris Mullin
and Mark Jackson said it best. They talked about how these guys
need to understand they are not only playing for their families and
themselves, they are playing for the people that came before them,
the tradition of this school."

After Hamilton's free throws gave St. John's the 53-50 lead,
Krauser missed a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left and Phil Missere
rebounded the miss and made two free throws with 4.3 seconds left
for the final margin.

Hamilton said he wasn't thinking about else but the free throws
when he stepped to the line.

"I told myself to breathe, relax and take my time," said
Hamilton, a 57 percent free throw shooter. "We thought about the
famous players and Pitt being unbeaten before the game but didn't
once it started."

St. John's scored the game's first 14 points and held a 31-19
halftime lead as the Panthers shot 27 percent (7-for-26) and
committed 12 turnovers.

"We dug ourselves a huge hole," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.
"That many points when the game is only going to be in the 50s is
a huge hole."

Pittsburgh used a 13-2 run to get within 37-34 with 12:47 left,
and the crowd sensed the upset bid was about to end. But reserve
Ryan Williams came up with two big baskets as St. John's answered
with a 10-2 run that got the lead to 47-36 with 8:10 to go.

The Panthers still had one big run left in them and they scored
12 straight points to take their first lead, 48-47 with 2:39 left
on a baseline drive by Krauser.

Eugene Lawrence and Aaron Spears each made one free throw around
two missed free throws by Pitt's Levon Kendall and the Red Storm
had the lead back for good with 1:55 to play.

Hamilton made a layup on a nice pass from Hill with 32 seconds
left for a 51-50 lead and Aaron Gray got it back to one with a
rebound basket with 13 seconds left.

"We were so impatient, rushing things offensively and that hurt
our defense," Dixon said. "We improved in the second half but
again that early hole was huge."

Dixon said the players hadn't been talking about being unbeaten.

"Honestly, they just wanted to win this game to win this
game," he said. "We didn't improve today as we had all season."

Lawrence added 10 points for the Red Storm, who lead the Big
East in points allowed at 56.7 per game.

Gray had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Panthers, while
Krauser had 10 points. Pitt finished 19-for-54 (35.2 percent) from
the field and committed just two turnovers in the second half.

Pitt was off to its second 15-0 start in the last three seasons.
The Panthers started 18-0 in Dixon's first season. Pitt had won six
straight road games and it had won seven of its last 10 games at
Madison Square Garden.

St. John's honored former coaches Joe Lapchick and Carnesecca
and former players Dick McGuire, Mullin, Walter Berry, Mark
Jackson, Tony Jackson, Alan Seiden, Malik Sealy and Sonny Dove with
"Basketball Legacy" honors, raising banners with their names at
one end of the Garden.