We are now down to the thin wedge of the season. The rind on the wheel of cheese that is the college basketball schedule. Teams around the NCAA are finalizing their resumes before the big dance, and saying goodbye to their seniors as well. It was senior night at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Wednesday night, as the Butler Bulldogs took on the St. John’s Red Storm who are looking to end their season on a high note.
Heading into the game, Butler were looking to add on a win before heading into the Big East Tournament, with the hopes of improving their seeding. This while also saying goodbye to four players have played a role this season as well as over the period of time that they have been at Butler. Those four were Kamar Baldwin, Sean McDermott, Henry Baddley, and Derrik Smits. Along with the four seniors, Butler was also saying goodbye to their mascot the wonderful bulldog, Trip, also known as Blue III.
The pregame theatrics carried over to a big victory for Butler, as they came away with a 77-55 win over Mike Anderson’s Red Storm.
For the first half, it was a close game that leaned heavily on the defensive side of the game than any sign of offense flourishing by either team. St. John’s appeared to have some control and influence on the game, but cracks were showing with some poor shooting. That would be a sign of things to come, as Julian Champagnie and Marcellus Earlington were the only Johnnies to be effective on the offensive side of the ball. Though oddly enough, the entire output for Earlington was limited to the first half as he finished the night with a mere eight points. Champagnie was the toast of St. John’s, with a game-high 23 points. The only other Red Storm player of note was Greg Williams Jr., who posted an 11 point game.
While St. John’s was applying pressure on Butler in the first half, the Bulldogs managed to keep it close, trailing 32-31 at the break. Part of the fight back and ultimate taking over the game, was due to the play of Sean McDermott. In the first half, he put on a defensive showcase around the basket, gobbling up 11 rebounds in the first 20 minutes of the game, before moving onto playing a greater offensive role in the second half.
For his efforts, McDermott finished Wednesday night with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds, a stellar way to put a bow on his career with the Bulldogs. He was not the only member of Butler to step up, either. The Bulldogs took over in the second half, outscoring St. John’s by a margin of 23 over the course of the half. St. John’s simply could not string together anything consistent, whereas Butler had the hot hand. Along with McDermott, a whole host of Bulldogs had excellent nights, with Jordan Tucker posting a 14 point game, Aaron Thompson posting a 13-point game, Kamar Baldwin posted 12 points, and rounding things out, Bryce Nze had an 11-point outing.
As a team, Butler shot the ball at a rate of 50% from the floor, 39% from 3-point range, and 67% from the foul line on 18 trips to the line. St. John’s, on the other hand, shot the ball at a rate of 37% from the floor, 38% from 3-point range, and 71% from the foul line on only seven trips to the charity stripe.
With this one in the books, the attention now shifts to the final Saturday of the 2019-20 college basketball season. St. John’s will be playing host to Marquette, whereas Butler travels to Xavier.