St. John’s’ quest to get to .500 in Big East play took center stage on the floor of Madison Square Garden tonight as the Red Storm took on the upstart Marquette Golden Eagles. Over the course of a game that started off with see-sawed action, it would be the Red Storm carrying the night with a 86-72 win over the Golden Eagles.
The start of tonight’s game felt like the start of a horse race. From opening tip both teams rushed out of the starting gate trying to carve out an early advantage. That early rush allowed for the back and forth sway of aggressive play by both teams that would carry on for much of the duration of the game.
It was the run at the end of the first half though that tipped the balance for this game and set the tone for the rest of the game’s duration. St. John’s went on a 10-2 run to close it out and set the stage for greater things for the Red Storm in the second half.
While St. John’s was able to get shots to fall, including 3-pointers that felt like they had a laser-guided ability attached to them, it was their defensive pressure and ability to counter Marquette’s screens effectively, as they countered their screens and forced MU into tougher spots on offense.
There were a number of focal points for St. John’s tonight as everything felt that all cylinders were firing in order. The main focal point was the trio of Bashir Ahmed, Shamorie Ponds, and Marcus LoVett. Ahmed was the leader with 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting and a perfect 5-of-5 from the foul line. Ponds meanwhile posted a 18 point game and LoVett had himself a 17-point game. Ponds and LoVett also led the team in assists with five a piece. Rounding out the play for the Johnnies was the front court who had a solid all around game.
Tariq Owens led the way with 11 rebounds and Kassoum Yakwe posted an all-around showing with 14 points and six boards. Both Yakwe and Owens hosted a block party underneath as well with both of them posting three blocks this game. They both were the only two on the Red Storm to run into serious foul trouble as both finished the game with four fouls.
As a team, St. John’s shot the ball at a rate of 48 percent from the floor, 42 percent from 3-point range, and 86 percent from the foul line. They scored a 18 points off of turnovers, 15 points off of fast breaks, 42 of their 85 points in the paint. The battle of the boards was negligible for St. John’s was they finished with 40 total rebounds to Marquette’s 39.
On the reverse side of things for the Golden Eagles, Andrew Rowsey was the scoring focal point in tonight’s game as he posted a 21 point showing on 6-of-15 shooting. The Golden Eagles’ best secondary scoring option was Sam Hauser with 14 points before fouling out of tonight’s game. Hauser also tied the team lead in rebounds for tonight’s game at seven with Luke Fischer.
As a team, Marquette shot the ball at a rate of 37 percent from the floor, 41 percent from three point range, and 65 percent from the foul line. What hurt the most for Marquette this game was turnovers as they coughed it up 17 times over the course of the game allowing the Red Storm to convert their aforementioned 18 points off turnovers.
Tonight’s win for St. John’s was their first win in the Garden in quite some time. The win also puts the Johnnies one game shy of a .500 mark in Big East play this season, that alluring white whale that St. John’s has been on the hunt for as much as they have been for a consistent run in Big East play. As for Marquette, tonight’s loss was a setback for the Golden Eagles who, in the run up to tonight’s game, had the potential for NCAA Tournament aspirations. They may have tripped them up tonight, but they are still well within grasp of their destiny as the season marches on.