CINCINNATI (AP) — Moe Harkless was supposed to take the last shot, just not like this.
Harkless' putback at the buzzer off D'Angelo Harrison's missed shot gave St. John's a 57-55 victory Saturday, ending the Bearcats' seven-game winning streak and giving the Red Storm its first road victory of the season.
St. John's (8-7, 2-2 Big East) opened the second half with a 21-3 run and led by 15 points midway through the half. Cincinnati (12-4, 2-1) finally hit some 3s — the Bearcats were 7 of 32 from behind the arc — to take it down to the last play.
Cincinnati's Jeremiah Davis made a 3 from the corner that tied it at 55 with 8.9 seconds left. St. John's called a timeout with 3.5 seconds to go after getting the ball across midcourt.
The idea: Give it to Harrison, who would either shoot right away or pass it in to Harkless.
"The play was initially for D'Angelo to get the ball and either get the 3 or look inside and pass it to me so I could get the shot," Harkless said. "But he had room to drive, so he took the floater and I was there at the right spot at the right time."
During the timeout, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin told his defense to force an outside shot. Instead, the Bearcats went for the steal and left an opening for Harrison drive the baseline and set the winning play in motion.
"We tried to steal the ball and let their best player turn the corner," Cronin said. "So poetic justice on the tip-in: The basketball gods giving the team that deserved to win today the victory."
Harrison led the Red Storm with 18 points, 13 of them in the second half. Harkless had 14 points and 14 rebounds in St. John's first victory in six games away from home.
Harrison has been the Red Storm's playmaker lately, scoring 20 points in four of the last six games.
Sean Kilpatrick had 21 points for Cincinnati, which shot only 26 percent from the field (10 of 76) and had starting guards Dion Dixon, Cashmere Wright and Jaquon Parker go a combined 3 of 26.
Cincinnati went on its winning streak with a four-guard offense, necessitated by six-game suspensions to power forward Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj for a brawl against Xavier. Both have come off the bench in the last two games, blending into the new offense.
Gates started the Bearcats' comeback from the 15-point deficit and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Bearcats' defensive pressure made the difference in the first half, which ended with the Bearcats up 25-22. Cincinnati leads the Big East in 3-point shooting but went only 3-of-17 from behind the arc in the opening half. Gates played only 4 minutes because of foul trouble.
Kilpatrick was the only Bearcat who scored consistently. After missing his first four shots, he scored seven during a 12-0 run that put Cincinnati ahead 18-10.
The Red Storm had 11 turnovers and made only eight field goals in the half, a season-long problem. St. John's is last in the Big East in 3-point shooting at 25 percent and went 1-of-7 from behind the arc in the half. Nobody on St. John's had more than five points.
Harrison hit a pair of 3s as St. John's opened the second half with a 21-3 run for its biggest lead of the game, 43-28, with 9:56 to go. The Bearcats couldn't get inside the Red Storm's zone defense and were off from the perimeter, making only one of their first 22 shots in the half.
"The problem was we were too lackadaisical," Wright said. "We didn't realize when they were playing zone and man, and we were running the same offense basically. We didn't switch and realize what was going on. We weren't focused."
The run turned out to be just big enough to get the win.
"When we were able to get that 10-point spread, I always felt that if you're going to win against a hot team, you kind of need a cushion," coach Mike Dunlap said. "We had that cushion and obviously we used every point of it to win the game.
Gates stopped the run with a three-point play, then banked in a jumper that got the lead down to eight. Wright made a pair of 3s, the last one getting it down to 53-52 with 21.8 seconds left.
Harrison was fouled on purpose and made both ends in the bonus with 18.3 left, making it 55-52 before Davis tied it with his only 3 of the game.
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter @apjoekay