Reax: Marquette 69, St. John's 67 (OT)

March, 9, 2013

What it means: St. John's, with two of its top three players suspended, almost pulled off a stunning upset of No. 15 Marquette.

The Red Storm made a dramatic comeback at the end of regulation (see below), but ultimately lost to the Golden Eagles, 69-67 in overtime, at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Despite the valiant effort, St. John's (16-14, 8-10) lost its final four games and finishes in 11th place in the Big East.

Marquette (23-7, 14-4) clinched a share of the Big East regular-season championship for the first time in school history. The Golden Eagles share the title with Georgetown and Louisville.

The turning point: Despite being without D'Angelo Harrison and Sir'Dominic Pointer, St. John's jumped out to an eight-point lead, 23-15, with 8:20 left in the first half. Shortly thereafter, Jakarr Sampson headed to the bench with two fouls, and the Red Storm couldn't replace his offense. Marquette outscored St. John's 13-2 the rest of the half and led 28-25 at intermission.

Marquette exploded for nine straight points in less than two minutes to start the second half and led by as many as 14 (41-27). But undermanned St. John's did not throw in the towel. In fact, trailing 63-54 with just under two minutes remaining, the Red Storm scored nine straight points to send the game into overtime. Jamal Branch's lay-in with 28 seconds left tied the score. Marquette had a chance to win the game in regulation, but turned the ball over, and then a Branch half-court heave at the buzzer was way off the mark.

With the score tied at 67 in the final minute of overtime, St. John's had chances to take the lead -- Felix Balamou missed a jumper, and Phil Greene missed a 3-pointer after an offensive rebound. Marquette's Vander Blue then hit the game winner -- a driving layup off the glass as time expired.

Star watch: Greene scored a team-high 20 points for St. John's -- 14 of them coming after halftime. Sampson added 17 points, and little-used freshman forward Christian Jones -- pressed into duty because of the suspensions -- scored a career-high 10 points.

Blue led Marquette with 16 points.

Number crunch: St. John's shot just 2-for-16 from beyond the arc -- Harrison's specialty. Marco Bourgault took the vast majority of them -- he was 2-for-11 (1-for-9 in the first half).

The Red Storm also shot just 5-for-13 from the free throw line.

What's next: The Big East tournament, also at the Garden. St. John's, the No. 10 seed, will play No. 7 seed Villanova on Wednesday at 7 p.m. -- the winner will play No. 2 seed Louisville on Thursday. Marquette, which earned one of the tourney's four double byes, will play its first game Thursday.
Kieran Darcy is an staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
Follow Kieran on Twitter »



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?