A buzzer beating shot. A game so close that the Red Storm could taste victory over a good team.
"I think this was the hardest game to lose. I’d rather lose by 20 points than a buzzer beater. We played hard the whole game and it was a hail-mary shot that ended it."
Video of the finish... after the jump. So sad.
I want to be upset about the ending of the St. John's/ Marquette game, but on a certain level, the Red Storm played pretty well. They had a team that scouted them well, bothered their ballhandling (turnovers on 22.7% of St. John's possessions) and got to the line more (34.4% free throw/ field goal percentage).
That sounds like a team fitting to get beat, but St. John's held the Marquette team to 38.5% effective field goal percentage (and 27.8% from the 3-point line, where they have shot 42% in Big East play) and played a game with 5 lead changes. They allowed only 2 fast break points.
In a game that was an ugly dogfight, the Red Storm performed well enough to fight a tough team into overtime. And they made plays - like Malik Boothe's jumper from the corner to tie the game at 54. The game was tight for much of the way through, and enjoyable to watch - the Red Storm looked like a solid team at times.
But in the close result, there were cracks. And I point these out not to say that I expected perfection, or that most Big East teams play perfect games. But I ask those reading to consider that a team hoping to knock off squads more successful and more talented need to get closer to perfection. And after 3 years, this class of juniors needs to be closer to mistake-free to be contenders.
It was a tough end to a hard-fought senior day game. And the only bizarre Carnesecca moment was Buzz Williams dropping a cupful of hard gum (think Chiclets) onto the court in the first half, forcing a stoppage of play. Anthony Mason Jr. made solid plays on defense and fought hard in the post; his jump shot was still a little errant. St. John's is 15-12, 5-10 in the Big East. Marquette goes up to 18-9, 9-6 Big East.
Before we get to the Keys of the Game reasons why St. John's lost, here are some factors in the loss.
- The Golden Eagles routinely ran screens in a way to get St. John's to switch defenders; and the goal of this seemed to be to get Lazar Hayward on point guard Malik Boothe. This happened at least 4 times. The Eagles didn't score over and over again on it, but at least one crucial basket, Hayward got deep position on Boothe (perhaps at 5:59 left in the second half). This kept happening and opened up options for the dangerous Golden Eagles.
- St. John's found themselves in a 4+ minute drought late in the second half. that will happen to a poor-shooting team, but what made it worse was that early in that segment of the game, forward Sean Evans found himself with a steal at the top of the key, dribbles up court, and took off too early from the floor. He ended up trying to get the ball in on a layup and missed an open shot. The Marquette team came downcourt to defend and came up with the rebound.
- The Eagles tied the game on a Hayward layup, where he outfought the Red Storm for an offensive board. I'll take this moment to point out that the Eagles only outrebounded St. John's on the offensive glass 30.3% to 31.7%... but the Eagles got 14 second chance points to 6 by St. John's (including 10 points in the second half and overtime).
Keys of the Game
I thought the team gave a great effort. But they're lacking a bit of the composure and execution that could have transformed the excellent things they did on defense and in clutch offense into a win.
Everything You Didn’t Do Against Cornell And More. St. John's did an excellent job defending the three and bothering the Marquette flow. There were open shooters for Marquette, but St. John's covered the shooters well for stretches and made them uncomfortable enough to force 28% 3-point shooting. But in defending the three well, there seemed to be some sluggishness to cover the team's star, Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler, as they struggled in covering Cornell's Jeff Foote. B
Sharp Focus. The focus was decent, and the team fought well. But at times in the second half, The Red Storm had a hard time avoiding disruption and turnovers (22.7% of possessions ended in a turnover). I want to lower this grade, but overall, they were mostly focused; but the Evans miss on the open shot and the late-game turnovers and difficulty with traps helped Marquette control the game a little better late. B-
Get To The Rebounds. Though they held the Golden Eagles to about their average on offensive rebounding, St. John's needed to be better to win this game. The rebounds and tip-ins by the Eagles needed to be negated. There were rebounds, but a couple more at the right times would have been the winning margin. B
Draw Them Into The Post. They started so well with this, driving into the smaller Marquette forwards; but the Golden Eagles started hedging into the post, preventing entry passes to Justin Burrell. It's unfortunate, and good defense by the visiting team, but it also hurt the Red Storm's ability to run a sharp offense. C+
Don’t Send Shooters to the Line. It was the slashers who drew the fouls, working from outside in. Marquette got their attempts at the line, but it certainly could have been worse; they worked for their attempts. B+
St. John's looked like it had gotten the stop it needed. With the final seconds ticking away in overtime, Marquette's Jimmy Butler tried to drive the right side against Anthony Mason Jr. He was nearly by him when Malik Boothe reached over and stripped the ball away.
But as the ball bounced toward the baseline, the horn still hadn't sounded. Butler tracked it down, snared it and got off a 17-foot fall-away shot over an onrushing Mason at the buzzer.
NY Post: This One Hurts
Marquette’s Jimmy Butler and St. John’s Malik Boothe chased down a loose ball near the right corner with less than 10 seconds remaining in the overtime period of Wednesday night’s men’s basketball game, after Boothe stripped him in driving to the basket.
Butler beat Boothe to the ball and hit a 17-foot jump shot as Anthony Mason Jr. rushed over to defend and Marquette defeated St. John’s 63-61, spoiling the forward’s Senior Night in Queens.
"I should have corralled him," Mason said. "I was just a step slow."
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Butler's jumper at buzzer in OT wins it for Marquette
"I mean this in the right way: The uglier the game gets, the more it trends in our favor," said coach Buzz Williams. "I think that because of the games that we've been in, no situation rattles our guys because we've been through all of them."
[Jimmy] Butler said "I don't know why, but when I get the ball at the end of the game I'm thinking, 'Maybe the team wants me to take the shot. If not, then they're just going to have to deal with it.'"
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Recap: St. John's
At the 15-minute mark of the second half and his Marquette Golden Eagles trailing, 37-33, after a Darius Johnson-Odom three-pointer, coach Buzz Williams somehow lost his grip on a plastic container filled with chewing gum as St. John's was bringing the ball past.
The gum scattered all over the court, forcing the officials to call timeout. Williams sheepishly began picking up the gum, along with the officials and even members of the Red Storm's staff, while also apologizing to everyone within earshot.
The sequence took only about 45 seconds, but it was enough to get laughs out of most everyone in Carnesecca Arena.
"I apologized to Coach Roberts, I apologized to their players," he said with a laugh. "I was trying to get the gum, and I did, and then I don't know if I didn't close it or what, but something happened and I just motioned and (the gum) looked like rain. I apologized to the officials. I wasn't trying to do that."