Yancy Gates' three-point play with 8 seconds remaining gave No. 25 Cincinnati a 53-51 victory over St. John's on Saturday.
The Bearcats (17-3, 4-3), the leading defensive team in the Big East at 56.7 points per game, came up with their biggest defensive possession of the game when they forced Dwight Hardy into a tough running shot with 3 seconds left and then St. John's missed two tips before the buzzer sounded.
Gates finished with 13 points and eight rebounds but he was limited to 21 minutes because of foul trouble.
The Red Storm (11-7, 4-4) took a 51-50 lead with 1:57 to play when D.J. Kennedy made one of two free throws. That was St. John's problem throughout the game as it went 12 of 26 from the line (46.2 percent).
After a Cincinnati turnover, Hardy, the second-best free throw shooter in the conference at 90.7 percent, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 33.9 seconds to go.
After timeouts by both teams, the Bearcats worked the ball around until Gates got it on the right side, backed in on Justin Burrell and banked in a turnaround jumper as he was fouled. The three-point play gave Cincinnati a 53-51 lead.
Kennedy and Hardy both had 10 points for St. John's, which was outrebounded 39-25.
Cincinnati, which made six of its seven free throw attempts, was able to withstand foul trouble when its bench came up big, scoring 25 points.
The Bearcats had plenty of trouble with the Red Storm's various trapping defenses, too. They finished with 17 turnovers, well over the 10.5 they averaged coming in. Point guard Cashmere Wright almost matched that total by himself with eight. He finished with 10 points and four assists.
Cincinnati finished 5 of 17 from 3-point range, while the Red Storm were 5 of 9.
Both teams came in having lost three of four games. This was the sixth of eight straight games against ranked teams for St. John's, which is 2-4 during that stretch.
The crowd of 5,602 was the first sellout at Carnesecca Arena since Feb. 22, 2009, against Seton Hall.