St. John's Tops Villanova 81-68

Dwight Hardy scored a career-high 34 points and No. 23 St. John's showed it doesn't need to be at Madison Square Garden to beat a ranked team with an 81-68 win over No. 15 Villanova on Saturday.

The Red Storm (19-9, 11-5 Big East) won their sixth straight game and beat their first Top 25 team away from the Garden. Led by first-year coach Steve Lavin, the Red Storm have knocked off six ranked opponents this season and all but secured themselves a berth in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002.

St. John's raced to a 14-point lead in the opening minutes, then held on down the stretch to hold off the struggling Wildcats (21-8, 9-7).

Hardy, who has thrust himself into contention for Big East player of the year honors, buried 3s, was nearly flawless from the free-throw line, and made tough shots from all angles. D.J. Kennedy had 12 points and 14 rebounds for St. John's.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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