St. John’s, winless in Big East, holds on to stun Duke

After rallying to take the lead, the Blue Devils sputter to the finish at Madison Square Garden to lose for the second time in three games

Shamorie Ponds. who scored 31 points, celebrates in the final seconds of St. John's upset of Duke at Madison Square Garden (Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK — Shamorie Ponds scored 33 points as St. John’s ended an 11-game losing streak by stunning fourth-ranked Duke 81-77 on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Ponds, who tallied 31 points earlier in the week against Xavier, reached the 30-point mark for the fifth time this season.

Bashir Ahmed poured in 19 points and Tariq Owens had 17 points for St. John’s (11-13).

Owens made three of four free-throw attempts in the final 33 seconds after the Red Storm briefly gave up the lead.

Gary Trent Jr.’s 22 points and Marvin Bagley III’s 19 paced Duke (19-4), which had won six of its last seven games. The Blue Devils go into Thursday night’s matchup at rival North Carolina with losses in two of their previous three games.

Wendell Carter Jr. added 14 points and 15 rebounds, while Trevon Duval had 11 points for Duke.

St. John’s, which trailed by 10 points in the first half, burst to a 64-53 lead with 8½ minutes to play.

But Duke was within four points a couple of times before Trent’s 3 with 2:15 left pulled the Blue Devils to within 72-71. His two free throws at the 1:35 mark put Duke ahead.

Ponds scored the next five points before a Grayson Allen 3-pointer for his only field goal of the game. After a couple of exchanges involving free throws, Allen missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds to play.

Ponds shot 12-for-23 with four 3-point baskets.

Trent made four 3-point baskets in the first 16 minutes.

Duke built a 37-27 lead with 2:48 to play in the first half, then held a 39-32 lead at the break.

Duke shot 54.5 percent from the field in the first half, but the Red Storm checked in at 50 percent. St. John’s didn’t get to the free-throw line until the 1:11 mark of the half.

It was the 11th meeting at the Madison Square Garden between the teams. Duke is 7-4 in those matchups. Duke dropped to 34-19 overall in the current Madison Square Garden.

For St. John’s, this was the middle game of a three-game stretch against teams ranked in the top six nationally. The Red Storm lost to No. 6 Xavier on Tuesday and go to No. 1 Villanova on Wednesday.