(Photo credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
Though St. John's survived some stressful moments in the final minutes on Thursday, Dayton needed a large comeback.
Both teams advanced to a semifinal matchup thanks to starkly different wins and a berth in the finals of the Charleston Classic is on the line Friday afternoon when St. John's faces Dayton in Charleston, S.C.
St. John's defense was significantly improved from its 16-point loss against Michigan but the Red Storm struggled immensely to consistently produce offense in its 53-52 win over North Texas. St. John's (2-1) scored four points in the final six minutes and 23 after halftime and escaped.
Joel Soriano hit two free throws with 71 seconds remaining and the Red Storm got two defensive stops to end it. Daniss Jenkins led St. John's with 17 points -- including a basket that gave St. John's an 11-point lead with six minutes left -- while Soriano finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.
St. John's held North Texas to 32.7 percent from the field after allowing Michigan to shoot 51.6 from the floor.
"We really loved this win, because we showed we can play defense at a high level and now we know the standard and can hold each other to this standard," Jenkins said. "Now we know we can do it, so we have to do it the rest of the year."
Dayton (2-1) stormed back from a 16-point deficit in the final 9:07 and advanced with a 70-67 win over LSU on Thursday. Nate Santos scored 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with four seconds left, as the Flyers ended the game by outscoring LSU 38-22.
Javon Bennett added 16 and also had an assist on Santos' game-winner. Santos and Bennett also helped the Flyers withstand a quiet outing from DaRon Holmes II, who scored 36 combined points in Dayton's first two games but was held to eight points on 2-of-9 shooting against LSU.
"It's big," Santos said. "It's definitely some momentum for us. It's something we wanted, and I'm glad we got it."
The schools have split 10 previous meetings and are facing each other for the first time since 1974.
--Field Level Media