Niagara snapped its eight-game losing streak against St. John's on Friday with an 86-63 upset in the first round of the ECAC Holiday Festival in Madison Square Garden.
Alvin Young scored a career-high 26 points and Niagara took control with a 17-2 run in the second half. Young held his St. John's counterpart, All-American Felipe Lopez, to 12 points.
"When you go up against an All-American, you have to be hyped up," said Young. "I came in trying to work hard on both ends."
Jeremiah Johnson tied his career high with 22 points.
Niagara's last win against the Red Storm was 68-63 on Dec. 23, 1988, in the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center.
The Purple Eagles led, 37-36, when Jeff O'Connor scored his first points of the game on a four-point play with 14:47 to play. Tarik Turner hit a driving jumper for St. John's (7-4) 18 seconds later, but O'Connor hit another three to start the 17-2 run. It ended on a free throw by Johnson with 9:20 left to give Niagara a 58-40 lead.
During the run, St. John's missed seven shots from the field, two from the foul line and turned the ball over three times.
St. John's, which was 6 for 28 from three-point range, was never closer than 11 points over the final eight minutes.
"I really felt we could beat this team," said Niagara coach Jack Armstrong. "We executed our offense, got good looks, and took control of the tempo. This is a big win for us. We tried to double team and make them play east-west, and not allow a lot of gaps to the basket."
O'Connor finished with 16 points, 12 coming in a 4:11 span, starting with the four-point play.
Reggie Jessie led St. John's with 13 points, 11 in the second half.
The win was Niagara's first on the road.
Niagara will play 18th-ranked Princeton, a 58-56 winner over Drexel, at 9 tonight in the final.