The bitter taste that ended 2018 turned into sweet champagne for at least one night, as St. John’s rang Marquette’s (ranked) bell, holding down Markus Howard and the Golden Eagles 87-68.
St. John’s travels to Washington DC to face Georgetown on Saturday afternoon, and the Red Storm will head into that contest with the confidence that they may have found a formula to handle a big team — with a lot of Shamorie Ponds, good ball movement, and explosive shooting from the starting five, who scored 87 of the team’s 89 points.
The Red Storm improve to 1-1 in Big East play and 13-1 overall. Marquette falls to 11-3 on the season and 0-1 in Big East play.
Both teams struggled to get into any sort of rhythm in the first half. For the Red Storm, the ball would stick for long stretches resulting in St. John’s finishing the half with 4 assists on 14 made FGs.
Defensively, St. John’s kept Marquette from taking efficient looks. The Golden Eagles went into halftime shooting just over 30% from the field.
In his 7 minutes of first half playing time, Sedee Keita was an integral part of denying Marquette easy looks at the basket. In his first action since he suffered an injury on November 14, Keita picked up a block in addition to contesting shots.
The issue for the Red Storm was giving extra possessions to the Golden Eagles. Marquette finished the half with 6 offensive rebounds and St. John’s turned the ball over 9 times.
However, as a result of an isolation-heavy offense, the ball tended to stick for the Red Storm. St. John’s finished the half with only 4 assists on 14 made field goals, and a number of botched transition plays and sloppy turnovers.
Offensively, Shamorie Ponds carried the scoring burden in the first half by scoring 20 points (7/9 FG, 3/5 3PT) and dishing out an assist, including six points late to provide a late first half cushion.
Despite the extra possessions for Marquette and the minimal ball-movement for St. John’s, the Red Storm went into the half up 39-31, holding Markus Howard, the conference’s leading scorer, to 1/10 shooting and awkward shot attempts. Joey Hauser, Sacar Anim and Howard all ended the half with two fouls apiece.
In the second half, St. John’s, at least for long stretches, cleaned up the issues they had in the first half and aimed to put the game away early. The Johnnies located players who would struggle to guard them, and attacked.
The Red Storm recorded 6 assists in the first 7 minutes of the second half (however, St. John’s did not pick up their 7th assist until over 4 minutes later).
As far as denying Marquette extra possessions, the Golden Eagles only grabbed four offensive boards in the second half and St. John’s did not commit a turnover until there were 3 minutes remaining in the game.
Marvin Clark II and Mustapha Heron shined in the second half. Clark scored 15 on 4/5 from the field, while Heron scored all 16 of his points on 4/5 shooting in the half.
Additionally, St. John’s defense collectively held Marquette’s Howard, the leading scorer in the Big East, to 8 points for the game off of 2/15 from the field.
Every starter for St. John’s scored in the double figures, and the bench — which only played a total of 27 minutes, 18 by Sedee Keita and Bryan Trimble, Jr. combined — did not score until Greg Williams Jr.’s driving layup in the last minute of garbage time.
With a minute remaining, Coach Mullin pulled his starters before St. John’s officially earned its first conference win of the season over Marquette, 89-69.
Marquette next faces Xavier at home on Sunday.
St. John’s Red Storm
Shamorie Ponds: 26 Points (8/15 FG, 4/7 3PT), 7 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 5 Turnovers
Marvin Clark II: 22 Points (7/10 FG, 4/6 3PT), 5 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Turnover
Mustapha Heron: 16 Points (4/7 FG, 2/4 3PT), 8 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 2 Turnovers
Joey Hauser: 15 Points (6/9 FG, 1/1 3PT), 5 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 3 Turnovers
Ed Morrow: 12 Points (5/8 FG), 5 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 1 Turnover