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Saturday, March 9, 2013
Reax: Marquette 69, St. John's 67 (OT)

By Kieran Darcy



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.