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St. John’s holds on to beat Marquette, 88-86

A tale of two halves with St. John’s coming out on top

Wendell Cruz

Several strong runs by St. John’s in the first half gave them a big enough lead to hold late, winning 88-86.

The Red Storm improves to 16-15, 5-13 in Big East play; Marquette falls to 18-12, 8-10 in the Big East.

Prior to the tip, seniors from St. John’s basketball were honored in their final regular season home game. Those honored included Mustapha Heron, Nick Rutherford, Justin Cole, and Thomas O’Connell.

The Red Storm had one of their better starts to a game in recent memory. The Johnnies opened the game on an 12-0 run over the first 5 minutes of the game. Marquette’s lackadaisical approach to St. John’s pressure was evident early, as the Golden Eagles turned the ball over five times in the first five minutes.

Wendell Cruz

Unfortunately for the Johnnies, Marquette answered with a 16-2 run of their own. During their answering run, Marquette’s Markus Howard knocked down a pair threes with defenders contesting the shots with near perfection.

The teams traded baskets for several minutes before the eight-minute mark, when St. John’s went back on another roll. The Johnnies knocked down ten field goals in a row with both Nick Rutherford and Julian Champagnie knocking down three buckets apiece during the stretch adding 8 points to their respective totals. Prior to the the streak, however, Greg Williams, Jr. had another one of those dunks.

The Red Storm’s strong finish helped them go into the half with a lead, 47-28.

When facing a team with instant offense like Markus Howard, even a 19-point lead at the half does not feel like nearly enough.

After a slow start to the half for the Johnnies, St. John’s got it in order adding another 7-0 run to their stat sheet. The Johnnies struggled prior to that run with Marquette being more careful with the ball. With St. John’s spending more time in the half-court, the Red Storm took a couple minutes to feel out how to attack the Golden Eagles.

As soon as the Red Storm figured out Marquette, Marquette responded with a 7-0 run of their own. However, any major momentum was halted with the Red Storm forced a 10-second back-court violation.

Despite St. John’s efforts, Marquette continued to creep up on the Red Storm’s lead. With less than six minutes remaining, the Golden Eagles had cut St. John’s lead to single digits in large part due to simply shooting better from deep in the second half (25% in the first half, 62% in the second). However, Nick Rutherford, on his Senior Day, got to the basket and converted an difficult and-1 to regain a ten-point lead.

Despite this, Marquette kept coming. St. John’s was able to get to the free line consistently in the second half, but struggled to knocked them down. After the half, the Johnnies shot 15 of 28 from the free line, largely allowing Marquette to stick around.

As the Golden Eagles crept closer, the Red Storm’s offense began to chill. With just over five minutes remaining, the Johnnies went on a three-minute stretch without scoring a field goal until Rasheem Dunn laid one in with two minutes to go.

Wendell Cruz

Marquette was able to close it within 2 with ten seconds to go, but a Champagnie strip effectively sealed the victory, 88-86.

Next, St. John’s participates as the 9 seed in the Big East Tournament on Wednesday at 7:00 against the Georgetown Hoyas.

St. John’s Red Storm

Julian Champagnie (double-double): 21 points (7/16 FG, 2/5 3PT), 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers

Nick Rutherford: 19 points (7/10 FG, 2/3 3PT), 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 turnovers

Greg Williams, Jr.: 17 points (6/10 FG, 2/4 3PT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnovers

Marquette Golden Eagles

Markus Howard: 30 points (8/16 FG, 6/10 3PT), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 turnovers

Sacar Anim: 22 points (7/16 FG, 2/3 3PT), 8 rebounds, 3 turnovers