Burrell's dunk punctuated St. John's 82-54 win over the hapless New Jersey Institute of Technology.
“It wasn’t that hard,” Burrell said of the dunk afterwards. “I don’t know how it broke. One of our walk-ons said he grabbed the rim during warm ups, so I think he loosened it for me”
Burrell’s dunk was just the most memorable part of a game that St. John’s dominated.
St John's was lead by guard Paris Horne, who scored 18 points and hit two three-pointers to lead the Red Storm to their fifth straight win. St. John's improved to 7-1 on the season while NJIT fell to 0-7.
NJIT entered the game on an astounding 40-game losing streak and the Highlanders, in the third year of a Division 1 transition, fell behind the Red Storm early. The Red Storm took an 8-0 lead on a 3 pointer by Justin Burrell with 18:22 left in the 1st haft, and pushed lead to 12-3 with 14:18 remaining.
NJIT scored four points to pull within 12-7, but that was close as the Highlanders came the rest of the way, as St. John's put the game away early with a 10-2 run, giving the Red Storm a 22-9 advantage. St. John's defense held steady the rest of the first half, and the Red Storm took a 42-23 lead into the locker room at half time.
The Red Storm came out even faster in the second half, pushing the lead to 23 with 17:34 remaining. However, the game ground to a halt when Burrell slammed home a dunk with 16:57 remaining. The dunk broke the backboard's support arm, and the entire basket and backboard had to be replaced, delaying the game for 35 minutes.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” coach Norm Roberts said of the situation. Burrell, who claimed to have broken four rims previously, joked that he got his inspiration from a big center in Phoenix.
“You know, I like to study Shaq a lot,” Burrell said, drawing laughs from the reporters in attendance. “I try to mimic that as much as possible.”
During the break, fans were invited down from the stands to dance at center court with cheerleaders.
Game Notes: Attendance: 808. NJIT was lead in scoring by guard Justin Garris, who finished with 12 points. Seldom-used freshman Phil Wait made an appearance in the first half, grabbing two rebounds and dishing out an assist. Wait, who played a total of eight minutes, received an ovation upon returning to the bench. Burrell and Shawn Evans brought the crowd to its feet with back-to-back dunks late in the first half. Burrell's dunk was a put back; Evans' was a breakaway slam.