JAMAICA, NEW YORK (TICKER) —Marcus Hatten wants his college career to end in Madison Square Garden.
Hatten scored 21 of his 30 points in the second half to lead St. John’s to a 73-63 victory over Virginia in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
The Red Storm (18-13) will host the winner of Tuesday’s game between Siena and Alabama-Birmingham in the quarterfinals, even though the Red Storm drew just 3,435 at Alumni Hall on Monday.
St. John’s, which defeated Notre Dame, an NCAA Tournament “Sweet 16” team in the Big East tournament, is one win away from advancing to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
“This time of year there’s not many teams playing so I’m grateful for the opportunity we have,” St. John’s coach Mike Jarvis said.
Hatten made that prospect possible with his clutch play on Monday, rallying St. John’s from an eight-point second-half deficit. The 6-1 senior guard highlighted a decisive 16-4 run with nine points and a steal, giving the Red Storm a 63-56 lead with 2:10 left.
“I was a little more aggressive in the second half than I was in the first,” said Hatten, who recorded his sixth 30-point game of the season and 10th of his career. “Things just clicked for me in the second half.”
Virginia (16-16) had dropped 13 straight postseason games, including the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, before defeating Ivy League opponent Brown in the first round of the NIT last week.
Pete Gillen, a Brooklyn, New York native, slipped to 1-9 in the NCAA Tournament, NIT and ACC tournament as Virginia coach.
“They’re a good team. They beat Duke and Notre Dame,” Gillen said. “We had the lead, but we couldn’t hold them off.”
Devin Smith led the Cavaliers with 19 points and Travis Watson and Todd Billet had 15 apiece.
Virginia held a 31-29 halftime advantage and started the second half with four 3-pointers in the first four minutes, including two by Smith, to increase the lead to 45-37.
But Hatten started a 16-4 run with a steal and a layup with 8:28 left and gave the Red Storm the lead for good, 58-56 on a jumper with 4:05 left. Hatten converted a 3-pointer and Anthony Glover, who finished with 12 points, hit a shot in the lane to cap the spurt, opening a 63-56 lead.
Virginia raced to a 21-8 lead, hitting 7-of-8 shots in the first 6 1/2 minutes. The Red Storm responded with a 21-10 spurt the rest of the half, ending with an alley-oop pass from Hatten to Grady Reynolds.