St. John's basketball beats Seton Hall, advances to first Big East Semifinal since 2000

The Red Storm surge passed the Pirates for a historic win in the program

Mar 14, 2024; New York City, NY, USA; St. John's Red Storm guard RJ Luis Jr. (12) brings the ball up
Mar 14, 2024; New York City, NY, USA; St. John's Red Storm guard RJ Luis Jr. (12) brings the ball up / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It has been 24 years.

Joel Soriano was the only player on the St. John's basketball roster born the last time the Johnnies played in the Big East Tournament Semifinals, but it has finally happened again.

A dominant 91-72 victory over Seton Hall has landed the Red Storm a berth into Friday night at Madison Square Garden, and likely a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

It was the complete opposite from the two regular season meetings between the teams, which the Pirates swept.

St. John's was tougher. St. John's took more pride in its defense. St. John's won a majority of the 50/50 balls.

St. John's was, by far, the better team.

"We knew we had to rebound. We knew we had to get in the [passing lanes] like they do, because they're really an outstanding basketball team," Rick Pitino said after the victory.

After a first half that saw Seton Hall catch fire from the field by shooting 53.8-percent from 3-point range, the Pirates, a 32-percent shooting squad from deep on the season, made just 11.1-percent of its triples after halftime.

It simply could not keep pace with St. John's offense that was getting any look it wanted, led by the continued resurgence of RJ Luis.

Luis finished with a team-high 18 points, including a buzzer-beater to go into halftime that pushed the Johnnies lead to five, 45-40, and gave the No. 5 seed all the momentum. The UMass transfer said after the game that he never had a shot at the horn in his career.

St. John's saw six players reach double figures but no one was more important than Joel Soriano, who looked like the player many expected to be an All-Big East selection this season, adding 14 points and 12 rebounds to the winning cause.

It was the most points the Red Storm captain has scored since January 31.

"I knew that my team needed me and I was going to do whatever I had to do to get the win," he explained.

"I knew I had to come in here and play and dominate my position."

Nahiem Alleyne was as an unsung hero for St. John's making all five of his shot attempts, including three 3-pointers, for 14 points while Daniss Jenkins, who battled foul trouble, had 11 points in 22 minutes.

It's a historic win for the Red Storm and sets up as good of a matchup on Friday night (5:30 p.m., FOX) that the Big East could have asked for between St. John's and UConn the right to play for a championship on Saturday night at stake.