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March 10, 2011NEW YORK (AP) Freshman center Fab Melo scored a career-high 12 points, including two layups in the final 2 minutes, and No. 11 Syracuse beat No. 17 St. John's 79-73 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.
Brandon Triche had a season-high 22 points for the fourth-seeded Orange (26-6), who will meet ninth-seeded and 21st-ranked Connecticut (24-9) in the semifinals Friday night. The Huskies beat top-seeded Pittsburgh 76-74 on Kemba Walker's buzzer-beating jumper Thursday.
Melo, a 7-foot native of Brazil who has been inconsistent in his rookie season, gave the Orange the lead for good at 70-68 with a layup off an inbounds pass with 2 minutes left.
He added another layup on a bounce pass from Triche that made it 74-70 with 32 seconds left.
Dwight Hardy had 22 points for the Red Storm (21-11), who advanced to the quarterfinals with a controversial second-round win over Rutgers.
After their 65-63 victory Wednesday, the conference admitted the officials missed two calls in the final seconds that should have gone against St. John's and turned the ball over to the Scarlet Knights.
No controversy this time as Syracuse closed the game by going 5 of 6 from the free throw line over the final 26 seconds.
Syracuse, which was given a double-bye into the quarterfinals as one of the top four seeds, looked a little rusty at the start.
The Orange shot 37 percent from the field (10 of 27), including 3 of 10 from 3-point range, as the Red Storm opened a 37-32 halftime lead.
Triche solved the long-range shooting problems by himself, hitting the Orange's first three 3-point attempts and they went on to shoot 50 percent in the second half (16 of 32), going 4 of 9 from beyond the arc.
St. John's, which entered with an 8-1 record at Madison Square Garden this season (the only loss to Syracuse), stayed close in the second half despite playing without versatile senior guard D.J. Kennedy, who injured his right knee 5 1/2 minutes into the game and didn't return.
Justin Burrell made two free throws with 4:05 left to give St. John's its final lead and the game's fifth of six lead changes in the final 8:37.
Melo's layup with 2 minutes left came on a designed out-of-bounds play by coach Jim Boeheim.
Rick Jackson, the conference's defensive player of the year, had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Orange, who have won six straight games and are in the semifinals for the 22nd time.
Justin Brownlee, the player who walked and stepped out of bounds in the final seconds on Wednesday, had 15 points and seven rebounds for St. John's, which was trying to get to the semifinals for the first time since 2000.
Kennedy, the Red Storm's third-leading scorer (10.7) and leading rebounder (5.7), went down to the court while going after an offensive rebound. He immediately called for the trainer and was helped off the floor by two teammates, keeping his right leg off the ground.