Men's basketball: Orange doomed by Greene's scorching finish in loss to St. John's

The senior made three shots from beyond the arc in the final minutes to send the Red Storm to a monumental win.

With just under five minutes remaining and his team trailing Syracuse by three points, St. John’s guard Phil Greene IV decided he was going to shoot the ball under any circumstance. 

He simply knew he was going to make a big shot, and he didn’t disappoint when it came time to prove his gut feeling correct. 

St. John's D'Angelo Harrison (#11) scored a total of 24 points against Syracuse during Saturday's game.

The senior buried three shots from beyond the arc and scored 13 points down the stretch to lead the Red Storm to an impressive 69-57 victory over the Orange in front of 24,884 fans in the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon. 

“I haven’t beaten (Syracuse) since I’ve been here,” Greene said. “Me being a senior, I wanted to go out on a high note, and so did these guys. 

“Man… it’s a big win for us.” 

Syracuse (5-3) scrapped its way to a slim advantage through the first 35 minutes, but ultimately melted down at both ends of the court in crunch time. With Syracuse ahead, 55-52, a turnover by Chris McCullough gave Greene and the Red Storm (6-1) an opening to launch its final volley. 

Greene began the onslaught by draining a wide-open three to tie the score. About two minutes later, he did the same thing to give St. John’s the lead. 

A second sloppy turnover, this time by Michael Gbinije, allowed him to extend the lead further with a free lay-up in transition. 

“Just take care of the ball,” Gbinije said. “I feel like we let another one slip, and we’re definitely frustrated. We got a week to turn things around in practice and get it going.” 

Finally, with 58 seconds left and the Red Storm clinging to a one-basket lead, McCullough failed to step out on Greene at the perimeter. The latter drained one final jumper to put the game out of reach. 

St John’s shot just over 56.3 percent from beyond the arc to easily upstage the ice-cold Syracuse offense, which converted only three of 22 attempts from downtown. Sophomore Ron Patterson misfired on six attempts in 17 minutes off the bench, while Trevor Cooney was held to a lone field goal and only four points. 

“Coach (Jim Boeheim) always tells me to keep shooting,” Patterson said. “He told me that in the huddle. Just keep shooting, and they’ll fall. 

“They just didn’t. Most of them didn’t fall.” 

The charity stripe wasn’t any kinder to the Orange, which made only 10 of 20 foul shots during the course of the game. 

In an effort to kick-start the offense, Boeheim had tinkered with his starting lineup, replacing Tyler Roberson with Gbinije shortly before tip-off. Gbinije scored 13 points in his first collegiate start, but the switch simply wasn’t enough to overcome SU’s atrocious shooting performance. 

More concerning for Orange fans might be the struggles of freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph, who was benched for the majority of the game after firing low-percentage shots and failing to run the floor in transition. 

Following the game, Boeheim even offered Joseph an apparent ultimatum. 

“(Joseph’s) gotta learn that he’s a point guard, not a three-point shooter,” he said. 

Greene had 18 points for St, John’s, while teammate D’Angelo Harrison added 24 of his own. Their hot shooting was complemented by what head coach Steve Lavin called tight “Sherwood Forest” defense, where multiple defenders dropped to defend any catches by McCullough and Rakeem Christmas in the post. 

With the win, St. John’s became the first non-conference opponent to beat the Orange in the Carrier Dome since Cleveland State in 2008. 

Syracuse, meanwhile, will try to right the ship next Sunday against Louisiana Tech. But that can only happen if the ball tickles the twine more often than it has so far this season. 

“We’re either going to make some shots, or we’re going to lose against good teams,” Boeheim said. “That’s it. It’s not that complicated.”

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