The St. John’s men’s basketball team dropped the first leg of a two-game Midwest swing on Tuesday, falling to Marquette, 82-68, at Fiserv Forum.
The Red Storm (12-8, 1-6 BIG EAST) trailed by two with eight minutes to go before Marquette (14-5, 4-3 BIG EAST) unleashed a 15-5 run in the closing minutes.
Mustapha Heron scored 18 points for the second consecutive game, going 7-for-13 from the floor and sinking four of his seven tries from beyond the arc.
He led three Johnnies in double figures, as LJ Figueroa added 13 points and Rasheem Dunn chipped in 12 to go along with a team-high four assists.
Marcellus Earlington tallied nine points and six rebounds while Julian Champagnie registered a near double-double with eight points and nine boards.
Markus Howard, the nation’s leading scorer at 28.2 points per game entering the contest, scored 32 points to lead the Golden Eagles.
The Red Storm connected on 10 3-pointers on Tuesday, the team’s highest total of BIG EAST play and second-highest of the season.
Defensively, the Johnnies recorded 10 steals, marking the team’s seventh straight outing with double-digit thefts, the nation’s longest active streak.
The two sides went back and forth to start, as the lead changed hands five times and neither team led by more than three in the opening 10 minutes action.
Trailing 13-12 with just under 11 minutes to play in the first half, the Johnnies hit three triples in the span of three minutes and grabbed a 21-16 lead with 7:33 to go. Heron sank two of those long tries for St. John’s, the first of which followed a 10-second violation.
Leading 29-25 with five minutes remaining in the half after Heron’s fourth 3-pointer of the night, the Johnnies saw Marquette uncork a 10-0 run to move ahead by six, 35-29, with less than 90 seconds to play.
With the Johnnies trailing by six, 37-31, at the intermission, Nick Rutherford fouled Howard on a 3-pointer and was subsequently assessed a technical on the period’s first possession, allowing the Golden Eagles to move ahead by 11 with just a few seconds gone in the action.
The Johnnies promptly answered with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to four, 42-38, but Marquette sank back-to-back threes to bump the lead back to double digits with 16:32 to go. The Golden Eagles started the second half by hitting five of their first six attempts from beyond the arc.
Facing its largest deficit of the game, 59-45, with just under 13 minutes to pay, the Red Storm kicked off a 10-0 run to pull within four near the midway mark of the half. Figueroa scored six of those points on the tear and assisted on another bucket by Earlington.
A corner trey from Champagnie brought the Red Storm within two, 62-60, with 8:08 to go, the Johnnies’ smallest deficit since the three-minute mark of the opening period. From there, the Red Storm went scoreless for the next three minutes, as Marquette used a 7-0 run to push its lead back to nine, 69-60.
Heron scored on consecutive possessions to pull his team within five, but that was as close as the Johnnies would get, as the Golden Eagles pulled away for their third straight victory.
The Red Storm returns to action on Saturday at DePaul, taking on the Blue Demons in a 2 p.m. start in Chicago.
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