St. John’s found some bench scoring to hold off Xavier, 93-84 to go to 14 wins on the season and earn Mike Anderson his 400th career win.
St. John’s earns their first win over Xavier since 2015. St. John’s is 14-8, 8-7 in the Big East, while Xavier drops to 11-4, 4-4 in the Big East.
The game was played at a high pace, but in more of Xavier’s style — dependent on shooting, with St. John’s unable to draw high numbers of touches in the paint or free throws, at least early on. Julian Champagnie and Rasheem Dunn carried things early, but the game looked to be Xavier’s to win — they kept the Red Storm out of the paint and were forcing the Johnnies away from the paint.
But the Red Storm took advantage of the Musketeers’ packed in defense. After a sluggish stretch, St. John’s made seven in a row from the field, part of a 15-3 run to go ahead by seven. The run was capped by a pair of Marcellus Earlington threes from the top of the three-point arc.
Xavier came back with a 6-0 run, but St. John’s held Xavier to three points in the last three minutes of the first half, while peeling off an 8-0 run. Posh Alexander was quiet scoring, but put his body in the way for three rebounds and seven assists.
In the second half, St. John’s held the Musketeers off. Xavier tried to play zone, which slowed the Red Storm a bit... but also left forward Isaih Moore open for dunks. Many, many dunks. Marcellus Earlington kept his strong play going, hitting open threes and battling for rebounds. Posh Alexander, held to two points in the first half, put his imprint on the game with 13 points, strong defense, and five rebounds.
St. John’s held Xavier off late, as the Musketeers couldn’t generate the shots to spark a run. Xavier could not find the range from three — much like in the first game against St. John’s, where they went 0-12. They were 4/18 from beyond the arc.
St. John’s committed some fouls late that kept the game alive for Xavier, but with a lead that bounced around nine and the Musketeers struggling to shoot, the threat was mostly academic. The fouls, however, are the kind of fouls that would give a team having a better night enough daylight to pull out a win.
Julian Champagnie led the Red Storm with 21 points. Marcellus Earlington had 16 points (including a career-high four three-pointers) and nine rebounds. Posh Alexander had 15 points, nine rebounds, eight total rebounds, and three steals.
Next for St. John’s is a return match against DePaul at home on Saturday 7:30; the original game was cancelled due to a “testing irregularity” right before a game against the Red Storm.