Having already defeated the No. 23 Golden Eagles twice this season, the St. John’s men’s basketball team failed to make it three in a row on Thursday night, falling to Marquette, 86-54, in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
The Red Storm (21-12) trailed by just six with 15 minutes to go before a 23-3 run broke the game open for Marquette (24-9).
After holding BIG EAST Player of the Year Markus Howard to just 25 points combined in the teams’ first two meetings this season ,St. John’s saw the junior guard explode for 30 points on Thursday night. He shot 8-of-15 from the field, including a 3-for-6 showing from three-point range, and connected on all 11 of his free throw attempts.
Justin Simon tallied 14 points, eight reboundsand three steals to lead the Johnnies while Shamorie Ponds chipped in 13 points and three steals.
St. John’s set a season-low 32.8 percent from the floor and made just three of its 20 attempts from distance.
Marquette found it hard to miss in the early going, making four of its first five shots and jumping out to a 9-5 lead with justover three minutes gone in the contest.
The Red Storm knotted the score at 11 before three Howard free throws and a Joey Hauser triple made it 17-11 in favor of the GoldenEagles a few minutes later.
Marquette ballooned its lead to double digits following a 6-0 spurt before pulling ahead by as many as 14, 36-22, on a Sacar Anim three with 4:19 to play in the half.
The Golden Eagles then went cold, enduring over four minutes without a point. The Red Storm, however, struggled to convert on the other end, trimming the lead to just 10 before a last-second dunk from Ed Morrow made it 38-26 Golden Eagles at the break.
The Johnnies shot just 10-of-30 from the floor in the opening half, including a 1-for-9 showing from beyond the arc.
The Red Storm unleashed an early 9-2 run to pull within six, 43-37, with just over five minutes gone in the second half. Defenseled to offense on several of those possessions, as Bryan Trimble Jr. came up with a block to lead to a Mustapha Heron dunk before Ponds came away with a steal and found Simon for a transition slam.
From there, Howard scored seven straight to kick-start a 16-2 run that then ballooned into a 23-3 run for the Golden Eagles.
St. John’s, which boasts five Quad One wins on its resume, will learn its postseason fate on Sunday when the NCAA announces the bracketfor the field of 68.
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