The Xavier Musketeers (17-9, 6-7) came away victorious Monday night against the St. John’s Red Storm (14-12, 3-10), 77-74 at Madison Square Garden.
Xavier got out to an early lead, going on a 14-3 run over the first six minutes of the game. St. John’s, however, countered that with a a 13-0 run of their own to grab the lead. From then on, no team led by more than two possessions for the rest of the evening, save for one brief seven-point second half lead for the Red Storm.
Xavier held onto the lead until another Red Storm run came midway through the second half. St John’s went from being down by three to up by seven in the span of three minutes. The lead wouldn’t last, though, as Xavier outscored St. John’s 13-4 to end the game. Zach Freemantle had the game-winning bucket with ten seconds left, when Naji Marshall drove into the paint, drew a double team, and found Freemantle under the basket. The Musketeers would tack on a pair of free throws to pull to the 77-74 final.
While it was Marshall and Freemantle connecting for the final bucket, Xavier got double-digit scoring outputs from all five of their starters. Paul Scruggs led the team with 16 points, Tyrique Jones had 15 (and 15 rebounds), Marshall had 15, Freemantle had 11, and Jason Carter had 10. KyKy Tandy added 10 points of his own off the bench. When you have six players than can score like that, you’re a tough team to slow down.
Rasheem Dunn led the Red Storm with 17 points, as St. John’s is still trying to look for someone to replace Mustapha Heron. Things have gone south for the Red Storm of late, and their remaining schedule is one of the nation’s toughest (Seton Hall, Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Marquette), but if the Red Storm can snag a couple wins, they could be looking at possibly making the NIT with a Big East Tournament win or two.
The Musketeers return to action Saturday as they host Villanova, while the Red Storm are off until Sunday when they make the short trip to Seton Hall.