With just 17 seconds remaining, a Paul Jorgensen floater that died on the back of the rim and improbably rolled in gave Butler its first lead of the night. St. John’s came the other way and had a hard time getting into its set. In desperation, Shamorie Ponds barreled to the rim with just a few second remaining. He was off-balance when he flung the ball towards the hoop and, predictably, he missed; to the delight of the crowd at Carnesecca Arena, the baseline referee blew his whistle. The foul was questionable, and the “ball don’t lie” method revealed nothing as Ponds made one of two to tie the game.
Kamar Baldwin’s buzzer-beating heave fell short and the two teams went to overtime where St. John’s ultimately prevailed, 77-73. Free throws were helpful in overtime as well, where the Johnnies made all seven of their attempts. The Bulldogs were down just 75-73 when they stole the ball with 14 seconds left. They opted not to use their last timeout and Paul Jorgensen, who made a few big shots to keep Butler in it, missed an off-balance floater. The Johnnies rebounded and subsequent free throws sealed the win.
Mustapha Heron, who St. John’s missed dearly in its loss to Providence, was the catalyst for the Johnnies all night. On a relatively quiet night for Ponds, Heron scored 28 points, scoring inside, from the free throw stripe, and from behind the arc. Marvin Clark II was also a key for the Red Storm. Butler elected to mostly leave Clark open from three and he was the opposite of shy, putting up 10 treys. He made four of them and scored 18 points.
Butler’s helter-skelter offense was more evenly distributed; Baldwin and Jorgensen were the leading scorers with 16 and 15 points, respectively. The Bulldogs actually shot slightly better than St. John’s and outrebounded their smaller opponent by 15, but the free throw differential (-10) and the turnover differential (-10) doomed the Dawgs.
St. John’s has taken sole possession of third place in the conference while Butler has dropped to the middle of the pack. St. John’s continues to look like the probable recipient of an NCAA at-large bid while Butler’s hopes may be all but dashed.
St. John’s next plays Villanova on Sunday, February 17 @ 5:00 p.m. ET.
Butler next plays DePaul on Saturday, February 16 @ 8:00 p.m. ET.
Butler: Offense just isn’t there
There isn’t much to write here beyond what has already been chronicled throughout the season by everybody that covers Butler. The offense just isn’t there for Butler. Against St. John’s, the Bulldogs tried to be a bit more aggressive but that led to a plenitude of turnovers. Butler hasn’t found any consistent answers and time is running out.
St. John’s: Ponds-Heron is a problem
Ponds struggled on Tuesday as he did against the Bulldogs in their first matchup, but Heron rescued the Johnnies with a stellar performance. Most of Heron’s success came from slashing to the basket and Butler was slow rotating almost every time because of an unwillingness to leave Ponds. If Heron continues to play at a high level the sky is the limit for St. John’s since Ponds is always a capable scorer.