Andre Curbelo scored 23 points as St. John's outlasted former Big East rival Syracuse 76-69 in overtime to win the Empire Classic championship game Tuesday night in New York.
After hitting a tiebreaking free throw to help the Red Storm beat Temple Monday, Curbelo was even better in this one. The Illinois transfer made 9 of 13 shots, handed out six assists and contributed four steals.
Joel Soriano added 19 points and 14 rebounds for his fifth double-double and David Jones contributed seven of his 18 points in overtime as the Red Storm (6-0) overcame two 10-point deficits in the second half and survived shooting 40.3 percent and missing 15 of 22 layups.
Judah Mintz scored 20 points to lead Syracuse (3-2), but Joseph Girard III endured a rough night as the Orange shot 38.8 percent. After scoring a career-high 31 points in Monday's overtime win against Richmond, Girard shot 1 of 10 and was held to four points.
Jesse Edwards added 18 points, including the tying layup with 98 seconds left in regulation that forged a 65-65 deadlock. The game reached overtime when Jones misfired badly on a 3-point try with 11 seconds left as the shot clock expired and Syracuse's Symir Torrence missed a jumper at the buzzer.
Neither team scored in overtime until Jones hit a spinning layup with 2:48 remaining. After Edwards sank two free throws with 2:28 left, Jones hit a jumper with 2:11 remaining and Soriano hit two free throws with 1:27 left.
Curbelo scored his final points when Chris Bell was called for goaltending with 73 seconds left to make it 73-67. Jones then finished it off when Curbelo found him for a corner 3 with 44 seconds left.
Mintz scored 16 points in the first half and his three-point play with one second remaining put Syracuse up 35-29. Girard's only basket put Syracuse up 47-37 with 16:02 left, and Bell's 3-pointer made it 50-40 less than a minute later before St. John's ripped off a 16-2 run.
--Field Level Media
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