Jan. 5, 2013
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CINCINNATI -- Redshirt senior point guard Cashmere Wright scored a game-high 23 points, but it was not enough as No. 14/15 Cincinnati fell to St. John's 53-52 Saturday afternoon at Fifth Third Arena.
Cincinnati (13-2, 1-1 BIG EAST) trailed by 10 points, at 48-38, with 5:02 left before running off nine straight points, thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers by Wright that cut St. John's (9-5, 1-1 BIG EAST) lead to one with 2:32 left in the game.
Red Storm sophomore guard D'Angelo Harrison, who entered Saturday leading the BIG EAST in scoring at 22.1 points per game, made a desperation 3-pointer as the shot clock nearly expired and put St. John's up 51-47 before UC junior forward Titus Rubles made his career-best third triple of the game to bring the deficit back to one, 51-50, with 1:46 left. Rubles finished the day with a career-high 14 points.
Wright's layup with 53 seconds left gave UC its first lead, at 52-51, since the 2:05 mark of the first half. The lead was brief as Harrison nailed a pull-up jumper with 29 seconds left for the final margin. Harrison finished with 15 points on 7 of 17 shooting, including nine of St. John's final 13 points. SJU freshman forward Jakarr Sampson led the Red Storm with 16 points.
On the Bearcats final possession, Wright took the inbounds pass from senior guard JaQuon Parker. After nearly losing the ball, Wright dished to Rubles, who shot faked a 3-pointer before missing a jump shot from the left elbow. St. John's sophomore guard Sir'Dominic Pointer grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 3.1 seconds left. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, which led to Wright's missed half-court shot.
Cincinnati struggled to find its shooting touch for much of the game, making just 19 of 60 from the field, including 11 of 34 from inside the arc. UC entered the game seventh in the NCAA in rebound margin at +10.8, but were limited on the boards as the Red Storm out-rebounded UC 40-34, including 23-14 in the first half.
After a sloppy first half that saw both teams combine for 23 turnovers, the Red Storm took a 24-21 halftime lead after finishing the first period by outscoring Cincinnati 12-2 over the final 6:02.
Wright, who scored 13 of the Bearcats' 21 first-half points, produced Cincinnati's first eight points after making his first three field goals, which included a pair of 3-pointers, for an early 8-2 lead. However, UC was careless with the basketball and committed eight turnovers within the first 11:53 of the game, which allowed St. John's to go on a 10-5 run and make the score 13-12 UC with 7:45 left in the first half.
St. John's first points came at the 15:38 mark of the first half on a pair of free throws by Sampson, who totaled a team-high 10 points in the first period. The Red Storm's first field goal did not occur until 5 minutes, 46 seconds into the game when freshman F/C Chris Obekpa made a put-back dunk on a fast break.
UC took its largest lead of the game, at 19-12, with 6:12 left after treys by Rubles and Wright. The run should have been 8-0 when Wright's fast-break layup was blocked by Amir Garrett after the ball bounced off the backboard; however, the officials missed the goaltending violation. Given the final one-point margin, that missed call loomed large for the Bearcats.
Rubles' second 3-pointer of the game ended St. John's second-half-opening 12-3 run, cut the Red Storm lead to 26-27 at the 14:06 mark and ended a stretch of 4 minutes, 28 seconds UC went without a point. His triple sparked a 12-6 UC run that decreased the deficit to six points at 42-36 with 8:25 left in the game.
St. John's extended its lead back to double digits, at 48-38, after going on a quick 6-2 run at the 7:01 mark.
Cincinnati next plays Monday at 6:30 p.m. in a nationally televised game on ESPN2 against Notre Dame at Fifth Third Arena.