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St. John's vs. Marquette final: 78-73; Johnnies battled but fell just short against Marquette

An inspired effort came up just short.

By: Wendell Cruz
By: Wendell Cruz

After dealing with Winter Storm 'Jonas' on Saturday, St. John's squandered their opportunity to snap a nine game losing streak and earn their first Big East victory. The Red Storm were defeated by the Golden Eagles, 78 to 73, at Carnesecca Arena Sunday, as the road team held off a massive St. John's rally in the second half.

Federico Mussini scored 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting while Durand Johnson added 20 points and six rebounds, but Ron Mvouika four points on 1-of-6 shooting struggled. Amar Alibegovic, 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting, was on his game in the first half but was quiet in the second frame. Felix Balamou also had his fair share of struggles as he scored just two points and shot 1-of-5 from the field.

In the opening half, the Red Storm attacked the paint offensively, got Luke Fischer in foul trouble and defended the painted area with perfection. They had only two first half blocks but like the first game in Milwaukee, Yakwe altered multiple shots in the interior that effected Fischer and Henry Ellenson (who scored just four combined points in the first stanza).

But once again the Johnnies put themselves in an eight-point hole at the break, due to poor shooting and inconsistent offensive production. Other than Johnson and Alibegovic, who combined for 17 points in the first, the rest of the Johnnies put up six combined points while Mussini and Mvouika had only three field goals and zero buckets.

The Golden Eagles got out to a hot start (11-2 run) after the break to give themselves a 20-point lead with 15 minutes remaining. But that's when Chris Mullin implemented an intense press that stunned the Golden Eagles. The Red Storm forced turnovers left and right and made a monster comeback that had them within two points (after a Mussini three) with 5:44 remaining.

While it was an excellent effort in the second frame, the Red Storm's youth showed up down the stretch. They allowed easy layups at the rim and were unable to stop Ellenson around the rim. The Johnnies did not get a good look to end the game as Mussini missed a long three with one second remaining that would have sent the game to overtime.

The Johnnies shot 35 percent from the field, 40 percent from downtown and shot 23 free throws. They had 13 turnovers and were out-rebounded 41 to 37.

The Golden Eagles were led by Duane Wilson (17 points), Ellenson (16 points and 18 rebounds) and the aggressive Haanif Cheatham (14 points). They shot only 29 percent from downtown and turned the ball over 22 times, but shot 53 percent from all areas of the floor and hit their free-bees (74 percent).

Next up, the Red Storm (7-13, 0-7) will travel to the Prudential Center for a Wednesday night match-up with the Seton Hall Pirates, who have one of the strongest backcourts in the conference due to the presence of Isaiah Whitehead, Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez.