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St. John’s can’t keep up with Marquette, fall 82-68

The Red Storm got as close as two in the second half, but could not capitalize.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s, like so many other teams, could not quiet Marquette guard Markus Howard on the road, and the Red Storm fell 82-68 to the Golden Eagles on a frigid night in the midwest.

St. John’s falls to 12-8, 1-6 in the Big East. Marquette improves to 4-3 in Big East play and 14-5 overall.

What if we told you that both St. John’s and Marquette would struggle to score in the first half?

Marquette would be surprising, as they came into the game second in the Big East in points per game with 75.

The Johnnies came in last in the Big East in scoring per game with 67 a game. So, if St. John’s could force Marquette into a bad scoring night, and St. John’s had a typical scoring night, then the Red Storm would have a real shot in this game.

In the first half, or at least the first 15 minutes of the first half, that’s what happened. St. John’s first half was largely on pace with their conference-play percentages shooting 33% from the field as compared to their 38% against Big East opponents coming into the game.

St. John’s trapping defenses may have left open shots in the corner, but that defense slowed down the Golden Eagles. Nick Rutherford chased Markus Howard, and the Johnnies were fending off the hometown team.

Hometown teams, perhaps, get hometown calls, and a couple of touch fouls put Nick Rutherford on the bench. Howard had five points up to that point, and Marquette couldn’t find a rhythm.

Marquette started battling back, despite some deep shots from Mustapha Heron. But Ian Steere bumped Koby McEwen to give him a pair of points, and the Johnnies started hurrying their shots and turning the ball over against little pressure. The half finished with a lack of poise, and the Red Storm down six.

Mustapha Heron drove the bus for St. John’s prior to halfway mark, making good decisions and taking smart shots. Consequently, Heron finished the half with 12 points on a cool 4/8 from the floor.

Defensively, only so much could be done to minimize Markus Howard’s impact on the first half, as Howard finished the half with 19 points on 6/13 from the field. However, the Golden Eagles not named Howard were 5/14 from the field and 1/8 from deep.

Howard and his 19 points were just too much for the Johnnies in the half, as St. John’s went into the half down 37-31.

The second half started with Nick Rutherford being called for a foul on Howard from three, then compounding the issue by picking up a technical. Consequently, to start the half, the Johnnies spotted Marquette an extra five points and had to pull Rutherford and his 4 personal fouls.

The Johnnies came back with pep, though. Josh Roberts got the dunk over Brendan Bailey and and foul. He hits the FT. Then Roberts blocks a shot and triggered a run-out to Figueroa.

Marquette pushed the lead out to 14 on a McEwen three, but the Johnnies fought back with a 10-0 run. Greg Williams, Jr. was not credited with any scoring, but was in the center of the action, with two steals, grabbing a rebound, pushing the ball up, and chasing down a loose ball.

Sacar Anim broke the run with a three, only to see Julian Champagnie with his own 5-0 run to bring the deficit to two. The Johnnies improved their defense on Howard, until a Howard miss led to him running to the other side of the court and, while shooting a three, getting fouled by Dunn.

With under two minutes left, the Red Storm got a stop on Howard, only to miss on the defensive rebound. Marquette’s Jayce Johnson tapped the ball out, and Johnson quickly got the ball back for the hammer dunk and his first points of the evening. Brendan Bailey, who had struggled with corner threes all evening, went baseline and hammered down a dunk.

St. John’s had chances. The non-Howard Golden Eagles who were ineffective from deep in the first half came to life after the break. But the Johnnies couldn’t put enough offense together against Marquette, who came to scoring life in the second half.

St. John’s stays in the Midwest, and will take I-94 South to face DePaul on Saturday at 2:00.

St. John’s Red Storm

Mustapha Heron: 18 points (7/13 FG, 4/7 3PT), 1 rebound, 3 assists, 1 turnover

LJ Figueroa: 13 points (6/13 FG, 1/6 3PT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers

Marquette Golden Eagles

Markus Howard: 32 points (8/20 FG, 4/12 3PT), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers

Sacar Anim: 21 points (6/14 FG, 4/11 3PT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 turnovers