It was, at the very least, a good chance to leave a good impression. Instead, the St. John’s Red Storm were thoroughly boat-raced in the second half, losing 86-54, as Marquette got revenge for the two St. John’s wins over them in the regular season.
In what ended up being St. John’s final performance before Selection Sunday, the Red Storm likely did not do itself any favors in the eyes of the selection committee.
In a choppy first half with 18 personal fouls, the Red Storm failed to find any rhythm offensively. The offense regularly devolved into a midrange isolation game resulting in contested jumpers inside the arc.
On the other end, Markus Howard got loose. Howard put up 13 points (4/6 FG, 2/3 3PT) and didn’t miss until just over 2 minutes remaining. While Howard led all scorers at the break, he also had 5 turnovers.
Part of Howard’s success was Justin Simon’s foul trouble. Simon picked up three first half fouls, and had to spend stretches balancing playing quality defense without furthering his foul trouble.
Marquette had nine turnovers at the break, but St. John’s was unable to capitalize only picking up seven points off turnovers. On the other side, the Red Storm turned the ball over six times with the Golden Eagles converting those into nine points off turnovers.
While it was no surprise Marquette got a strong contribution from the Big East Player of the Year, the Golden Eagles got a surprise contribution from Sacar Anim. Anim averaged 8.4 points per game during the season, but contributed 10 first half points (4/8 FG, 2/3 3PT).
Led by Howard and Anim, Marquette led at the half 38-26.
In the second half, St. John’s got back to some simple things to stay close. They made Howard uncomfortable and shot more layups and uncontested jumpers.
It didn’t take long for the minor adjustment to pay off. Howard was 0 of 3 from the field through the first five minutes, and the Red Storm pulled within 6 points.
But Marquette puts up points in a hurry and counter-punched, digging in to exact their revenge.
After a timeout, Howard and company went on a 23-2 run over six minutes with Howard scoring 12 of those.
Marquette got up by as many as 27 points in the second half, and the final eight minutes were a mere formality.
The Golden Eagles punished St. John’s on the boards in the second half grabbing 26 to the Red Storm’s 14.
While there were plenty of missed opportunities and poor play on behalf of St. John’s, Marvin Clark II had a particularly frustrating night. Clark fouled out with more than seven minutes remaining with 0 points (0/3 FG, 0/2 3PT) and 5 rebounds.
St. John’s perimeter shooting was worse tonight than it has been this season against any Big East opponent. Coming into this game, the worst shooting night the Johnnies had was against Providence in the Garden where St. John’s shot 17% from deep. Tonight the Red Storm shot 15%.
The clock mercifully ran out, and St. John’s fell, 86-54.
The Red Storm, according to some pundits, should be in the NCAA Tournament, with wins over Marquette twice, over Villanova, over Creighton on the road and over VCU.
Others cast doubt on the team’s NET ranking, statistical rankings, and mediocre strength of schedule.
What happens on Sunday will involve a lot of nerves for all St. John’s fans.
St. John’s Red Storm
Justin Simon: 14 points (6/15 FG, 1/2 3PT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists
Shamorie Ponds: 13 points (4/14 FG, 0/4 3PT), 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 turnover
Mustapha Heron: 9 points (4/12 FG, 0/2 3PT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers
Markus Howard: 30 points (8/15 FG, 3/6 3PT), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 turnovers
Sacar Anim: 13 points (5/10 FG, 3/4 3PT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists