NEW YORK (AP) — Myles Powell wants the ball with the game on the line. This time, he wouldn’t let go of it afterward, either.
The star guard scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half, surpassing 2,000 for his stellar career, and No. 18 Seton Hall rallied past St. John’s 82-79 on Saturday to extend its winning streak to eight games.
When it was over, Powell clutched the game ball as he embraced several Red Storm players — even as a St. John’s staffer tried in vain to retrieve it from him.
Powell wasn’t giving it up.
“I just wanted my 2,000-point ball,” he said.
Quincy McKnight added 20 points and 7-foot-2 Romaro Gill had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks to help the Pirates (14-4, 6-0 Big East) overcome a 13-point deficit after halftime. Myles Cale scored 12.
Seton Hall, the only unbeaten team in Big East play, is 6-0 in conference games for the first time since the league’s inception in 1979.
The Pirates’ eight-game winning streak matches their longest in Kevin Willard’s 10 seasons as coach.
Mustapha Heron scored 18 for the Red Storm (12-7, 1-5), who led for more than 30 minutes. Josh Roberts matched his career high with 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
LJ Figueroa had 16 points and a career-best seven steals before fouling out with 1:37 to go as Powell converted a three-point play that put the Pirates in front.
Down on his back after the ball fell through, Powell flexed his biceps.
“He always has that look in his eyes,” Willard said.
With a fast-break layup early in the second half, Powell became the fifth Seton Hall player to reach 2,000 points, joining Terry Dehere, Nick Werkman, Jeremy Hazell and Greg Tynes.
“It means I got a lot of wins,” Willard said, drawing laughs.
McKnight made the second of two free throws to give the Pirates a 76-75 lead with 1:10 left, and Rasheem Dunn was called for charging at the other end. Powell drove for a tough layup with 28.8 seconds remaining before Dunn’s layup cut the margin to one again.
Cale and McKnight each sank two free throws in the final 20 seconds, and Seton Hall held on when Marcellus Earlington’s long, hurried 3-point attempt was short of the rim at the buzzer.
Seton Hall entered averaging 13.5 turnovers per game. After committing 15 in the first half and trailing 43-30 at the break, the Pirates got an earful from Willard. Then they took a page out of the St. John’s playbook and came out trapping with pressure defense in the second half.
“We adjusted; we pressed them right back and got them on their heels,” Willard said. “It gave us a chance to turn them over. We made easy buckets and it loosened us up a little bit.”
Seton Hall stormed back and took its first lead at 61-58 on a 3-pointer by Powell with 8:17 remaining. The rally was aided by two jumpers from Cale early in the second half that were subsequently changed to 3s following replay reviews during a timeout.
“I just think we went back to the locker room and regrouped,” Gill said. “We know we made mistakes in the first half and came back with a different mindset.”
Figueroa hit a 3 to tie it again with 7:42 left, and the Tri-State Area rivals traded blows the rest of the way in front of a Madison Square Garden crowd of 10,428 filled with fans of both schools.
“Anyone watching knows we saw a great ballgame. Two teams showed up, obviously neighboring teams,” St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said. “They made some big free throws going down the stretch, so you have to give them credit. But as I told our guys, I was proud of the effort.”
Willard said 6-foot-11 junior Sandro Mamukelashvili could return Jan. 29 against DePaul. Mamukelashvili was averaging 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game before breaking his right wrist on Dec. 8 in a loss at Iowa State.
Seton Hall: The veteran Pirates were picked first in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll and are showing why. After opening at No. 12 and then falling out of the Top 25 when Mamukelashvili and Powell got hurt, they returned to the rankings this week and figure to climb following a pair of road wins. Seton Hall was coming off an impressive victory Wednesday night at No. 5 Butler, the second road win in program history over a top-five team. The other one came in February 2000 at No. 4 Syracuse.
St. John’s: In their first season under Anderson, the Red Storm went 11-2 in nonconference games, but they’ve had trouble closing out opponents since Big East play began.
Seton Hall: Three straight Big East home games, beginning with a visit from Providence on Wednesday night.
St. John’s: After trying to contain Powell, the Red Storm face another preseason first-team All-American when they hit the road Tuesday night to take on Markus Howard and Marquette. Howard, who began the day leading the nation in scoring at 27.3 points per game, is the reigning conference player of the year.
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