NEW YORK -- A quick take on St. John's ugly, exciting and controversial 65-63 win over Rutgers on Wednesday afternoon at Madison Square Garden:
WHAT IT MEANS: St. John's, the No. 5 seed, advances to the Big East quarterfinals for the first time since 2003 by knocking off No. 13 seed Rutgers. The Red Storm are now 21-10 on the season. Rutgers falls to 15-17, and is eliminated from the tournament.
CONTROVERSY: Justin Brownlee hurled the ball into the crowd after the last Rutgers turnover, and it appeared there was still time on the clock. Others say he also traveled, and stepped out of bounds. The Big East issued a statement, saying: "Two separate officiating errors occurred at the conclusion of the St. John's vs. Rutgers game. Both missed violations should have caused the game clock to stop and a change of possession to occur prior to the end of the game. Neither error is reviewable or correctable under NCAA playing rules."
THE SKINNY: The Red Storm led by as many as nine in the first half, 26-17, but the Scarlet Knights cut it to 28-24 at intermission. Rutgers shot a cringe-inducing 9-for-33 in the first half (27.3 percent), but St. John's committed an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers (the Red Storm average only 12.1 per game).
The game remained tight in the second half. St. John's led by as many as 10, but undermanned Rutgers simply would not go away -- a testament to Mike Rice's coaching and his players' will to win. The Scarlet Knights took the lead 61-60 -- their first lead since 3-2 -- on a Mike Coburn 3-point play with 57.9 seconds left. St. John's responded with four straight clutch free throws -- two from Dwight Hardy, and two from Sean Evans -- to take a 64-61 lead.
In the final 13.4 seconds, St. John's fouled Rutgers on purpose, so the Scarlet Knights wouldn't get a game-tying 3-point attempt. Coburn drained both free throws. St. John's then turned it over on the inbounds pass, giving Rutgers a chance to win it. Coburn drove in the lane, and missed.
Rutgers had one final possession, down 65-63 with 4.9 seconds remaining, having to go the length of the floor. A long inbounds pass got away from the Knights, and that was when Brownlee got the ball.
STAR WATCH: Nothing came easy offensively for either team in this game. Hardy had 17 points for St. John's, but shot just 5-for-17 from the field. Jonathan Mitchell, Rutgers' leading scorer on the season, had just eight. James Beatty led the Scarlet Knights with 15 points.
NUMBER CRUNCH: St. John's would not have won this game without its free throw shooting -- a big weak spot a season ago. The Red Storm made 18 of 23 (78.3 percent), very good -- although Brownlee missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and D.J. Kennedy missed 1 of 2 in the final 10 seconds.
WHAT'S NEXT: St. John's will play No. 4 seed Syracuse -- the only team to beat the Red Storm at the Garden this season -- on Thursday at approximately 2:30 p.m.
Rutgers heads home to Piscataway -- the Scarlet Knights' season is over.