NEW YORK - If the West Virginia men's basketball team was going to have a chance in the second half and could make a 21-point deficit disappear, it was going to begin with a moment like this.
Truck Bryant took a step out of a prolonged shooting slump with a 3-pointer to cut the St. John's lead to 56-40 and a long rebound on a Red Storm miss gave the Mountaineers a rare opportunity in transition Wednesday night.
WVU fans at Madison Square Garden to witness what became a 78-62 loss lifted their heads as the Mountaineers ran the court and then, just as quickly, tucked their chins into their chest.
Jabarie Hinds had a shot blocked at the rim - the sixth time a WVU shot was blocked - and the Red Storm thundered the other way. Johnnie D'Angelo Harrison flicked a pass to teammate Amir Garret for an alley oop.
Browne was fouled on the other end and missed two free throws and St. John's scored on a second-chance basket to go back up by 20 points.
"It's not an anomaly," WVU Coach Bob Huggins said. "We got our butts kicked. They were much better than we were."
WVU (15-6, 5-3 Big East) made it interesting, but with some help from the Red Storm. It was 66-54 with 3:43 left after WVU managed to survive a multiple-shot possession by St. John's that drew the ire of acting head coach Mike Dunlap, who picked up a technical foul.
Kevin Jones, who was 5-for-5 at the free-throw line, went up and missed both attempts.
"It was too late and we'd been fighting an uphill battle too long," Jones said. "I felt we had the better team, but they played the hardest and the team that plays the hardest usually wins. They did all the things necessary to win this game and we didn't."
The Red Storm (9-11, 3-6) started five freshmen and used only two substitutes, but snapped a four-game losing streak. Freshman Moe Harkless had 23 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots. Harrison had 10 points and made three of his team's four 3-pointers. Green had 11 points and eight assists and Garrett had 11 points and seven rebounds.
St. John's shot 48.4 percent, had a 22-5 edge in fast break points and outrebounded WVU by seven in the first half.
"We had three goals for this game," Dunlap said. "Play level on the boards, run and keep running, and third, any adjustments we needed to make, to recover and adjust to the feel of the game."
Jones had his 14th double-double with 26 points and 14 rebounds. It was his sixth straight game with at least 20 points, the team's best streak since Da'Sean Butler did it in six straight games in 2009.