The St. John’s men’s basketball team closed out its 2021-22 regular season with an 85-77 loss to Marquette on Saturday at Fiserv Forum.
The Red Storm (16-14, 8-11 BIG EAST) entered the evening locked into the no. 7 seed for next week’s BIG EAST Tournament at Madison Square Garden. The Johnnies will face 10th-seeded DePaul in Wednesday’s opening round. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on FS1.
Dylan Addae-Wusu finished one shy of his career-high in the scoring column, tallying 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including a 3-for-4 effort from beyond the arc.
Julian Champagnie, the second leading scorer in the BIG EAST, scored 15 points and grabbed five boards in 33 minutes of action.
Aaron Wheeler finished in double figures with 11 points and three steals while Esahia Nyiwe chipped in a career-best 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
Montez Mathis and Joel Soriano added eight points apiece while Rafael Pinzon scored six points in 10 minutes of action, his highest total since returning to the lineup on Feb. 23 against Creighton following a 15-game absence.
Entering the game ranked ninth in the conference in scoring at 14.7 points per game, Posh Alexander took only four field goal tries and was held without a point on Saturday night. The sophomore managed to affect the contest in other ways, dishing out a game-high nine assists.
The game’s opening minutes were all Marquette, as the Golden Eagles (19-11, 11-8 BIG EAST) scored the first 10 points of the evening and held the Johnnies without a field goal for the opening 3:40. St. John’s responded quickly, as Mathis scored the first six points of an 8-0 burst to pull the Red Storm within two.
The Red Storm grabbed its only lead of the game, 19-18, at the midway mark of the half following a pair of consecutive treys from Addae-Wusu. The lead, however, was short-lived, as the Golden Eagles rattled off an 11-0 run to reclaim a 10-point edge.
St. John’s trimmed the deficit down to three, 36-33, after a 6-0 spurt in the span of just 31 seconds, but trailed by seven at the intermission.
The Red Storm quickly cut into the Marquette lead on the other side of the break, scoring the first five points of the period to make it a 42-40 game less than a minute into the second stanza.
Trailing by two, 48-46, two minutes later, St. John’s saw Marquette rattle off a 7-0 lead to stretch its lead to nine, 55-46, with 16:19 to go.
The two teams traded blows the rest of the way, but the Red Storm could never fully close the gap, as the Johnnies trailed by no fewer than four points over the final 13 minutes of play.
St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson
“I say this after most games, especially a game of this magnitude, the free throw line is the biggest difference. The ability to make them at key times. Marquette went 20-for-25 from the free throw line. It was the game I thought it was going to be. … Teams going at each other. We were down seven at the half and we came out with a nice surge. It was a game of runs and I thought they had the last one. That was the difference in the game. I thought our guys competed at a high level. They played to win. We left some plays out there on the floor. At the end of the day, I thought they left everything they had out there on the floor.”
On what prevented the team from coming away with a win…
“We couldn’t get over the hump and couldn’t get a stop. It has to be one of those combinations where we make a shot or get to the free throw line. The game was never out of reach, but we just couldn’t make that play tonight. For whatever reason, we could not get over the hump.”
On Justin Lewis’ improvement this season…
“It reminds me of the jump Julian [Champagnie] made in his first year. Shaka [Smart] has done a good job of letting him be the leader. He’s definitely one of the leaders, and he’s got a good cast around him. When you think about [Darryl] Morsell, he’s the guy that keeps them solid. He’s an older guy. They play the way Shaka wants them to play, attacking defensively. They got some big offensive rebounds. That was one of the killers for us. We were right there, within striking distance, and they get a rebound and get a stick back. Justin [Lewis], I think, has been one of the most improved players in our league.”
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