When there's a storm, birds should not fly. That's especially true if those birds are flying into a storm as hot and heavy as the St. John's Red Storm.
The Johnnies took down the Marquette Golden Eagles Wednesday night 67-51 for their fourth straight win.
After a first half in which both teams struggled, D'Angelo Harrison went off or St. John's, scoring 16 of his 21 points in the second stanza. Rysheed Jordan led all scorers with 23 points, powering the sluggish Red Storm in the first with 13 points. Sir'Dominic Pointer had a strong showing for the Johnnies, posting a double-double with 10 points, 13 rebounds. Pointer also chipped in seven assists on the night.
Marquette pressured St. John's early on, forcing the Red Storm into only 6-20 shooting, including 1-6 from beyond the arc. Their solid defense couldn't turn into solid offense, as the Golden Eagles turned the ball over seven times and shot 34 percent to keep it just close enough within striking distance at the half at 34-27.
But Marquette could not keep up with the athleticism of St. John's, as the Red Storm started to hit their three-point opportunities, shooting 50 percent in the second half, overwhelming Steve Wojciechowski's squad.
Matt Carlino led Marquette in scoring, posting 17 points in addition to four rebounds and two steals. Steve Taylor Jr., coming off the bench for the Golden Eagles, was a force to be reckoned with on the glass, as he brought down 17 rebounds.
So there's the recap. But here's three things we learned from Wednesday night.
St. John's Red Hot at Right Time
Having struggled early in Big East play, Steve Lavin's squad has righted the ship and are playing their best basketball at the right time. A 3-6 conference record had the Red Storm scrambling, but they've now won four games in a row, and six of their last seven games.
Not too long ago, the talk was whether this senior-laden squad would even get into the tournament, as St. John's was considered "on the bubble" by many so called expert bracketologists. But after this stretch, that puts the Red Storm at 21-9, and fifth place in the Big East at 10-7, St. John's has room to breathe, having surely locked up at the very least an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.
Can this team sustain this momentum at the most important time of the year? They have a chance to make serious noise Saturday when they take on No. 4 and potential tournament No. 1 seed Villanova at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. If they knock off the Wildcats, they'll be feeling sky-high as they head into the Big East Tournament.
Marquette Can't Keep Calm and Carry On
A big turning point in this game came late in the first half, when Carlino was assessed a technical foul for arguing a call with only one second remaining in the first half. The technical led to a seven-point lead for St. John's and really turned the tide in the Red Storm's favor.
It's been a down year for Marquette, and that's putting it politely, but it's a shame that a cooler head could not prevail, ultimately costing the team down the stretch.
Lack of Depth? So What?
It's no secret that St. John's doesn't have the deepest bench in the world. Steve Lavin uses six, maybe seven players a game. And late in the year, a team might be cut some slack for playing the minutes they do while losing a step.
But this St. John's team is not slacking off one bit. Of the six players who took the floor tonight, four of them hit double figures in scoring (Jordan, Harrison, Pointer and Phil Greene IV with 11 points). They'll all need to keep contributing however, as they run into their toughest challenges yet.