USF men's basketball topples St. John’s on Lavin’s big evening

Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY SportsFrom downtown: USF freshman Avry Holmes celebrates after drilling a 3-pointer in Tuesday’s victory. Holmes finished with nine points

A special night for St. John’s coach Steve Lavin ended on a bitter note as the USF men’s basketball team knocked off the Red Storm 81-65 on the Hilltop on Tuesday night.

Lavin’s father, Cap Lavin, was honored at halftime as a member of USF’s 1949 NIT championship squad. But the Dons sprinkled rain — and 3-pointers — on Lavin’s parade by defeating his squad in his first game on the sideline at his father’s alma mater.

“I’m pleased that [my father] was honored and he was able to do it with all of his children here,” Lavin said. “It’s probably been 25 or 30 years since all six of his children were gathered in the same place at the same time. With distance, the honor will take some of the sting out of this defeat. Right now it doesn’t feel very good.”

The Dons (5-1) entered the game as the nation’s second-best 3-point shooting team (42.5 percent) and they continued to hit from outside Tuesday, knocking down nine of 15 shots from long distance.

Three of the Dons’ treys came from De’End Parker (3-for-3), who improved his season mark to 75 percent (15-of-20). Parker opened both halves by swishing baseline 3s, but his biggest contribution was the three free throws he nailed after being fouled on another attempt from downtown with 6:23 to play.

The free throws put the Dons ahead by eight points and they outscored the Red Storm 17-9 to close the game. Parker was the Dons’ leading scorer with 21 points.

The game started off as a seesaw battle with 10 lead changes in the first 8:36. But the Dons pulled ahead 17-16 with a 3-pointer from Mark Tollefson, starting a 10-2 run. The Dons didn’t give up the lead for the rest of the game.

They opened a 15-point lead by putting together a 15-2 run in the first 4:06 of the second half, but the Red Storm responded by scoring 10 unanswered points.

St. John’s cut the lead to three points with 7:38 to play and the game looked like it was slipping away from the Dons. At that point, point guard Cody Doolin took matters into his own hands, driving to the hoop for a crucial layup.

Parker was fouled in 3-point land on the Dons’ next trip up the floor, turning the game’s momentum for good.

Doolin scored 18 points and a career-high 14 assists.

“I don’t think anyone could have played better than Cody tonight,” Parker said. “He’s our leader on the floor.”

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