St. John's Downs Butler, 75-68, in Double Overtime Thriller|
March 1, 2018
QUEENS, N.Y. - Playing at Carnesecca Arena for the final time in the 2017-18 regular season, the St. John's men's basketball team provided the sellout crowd with a game for the ages, outlasting Butler in double overtime, 75-68, on Wednesday night.
Trailing by five with just 12 seconds to play in regulation, the Johnnies miraculously scored five-straight in that impossibly short span to force overtime. Still tied after 45 minutes, the Red Storm outscored the Bulldogs 11-4 in the second extra period, closing the game on a 9-0 run and picking up the team's first overtime win since March 8, 2014.
Justin Simon scored nine of his 24 points in the overtime periods to help lead the Johnnies to their second-straight victory at Carnesecca Arena. The Temecula, Calif., native also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season. In a full 50 minutes of action, Simon also registered game highs with five assists and four steals. Simon became the first St. John's player to log 50 or more minutes in a single game since Malik Boothe played 51 in a triple overtime victory over DePaul on March 5, 2010.
Bashir Ahmed and Marvin Clark II also eclipsed the 20-point plateau, marking the first time since the Red Storm's last overtime win against Marquette in 2014 that three St. John's players recorded 20 or more points in the same game. Ahmed scored 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including a 3-for-6 effort from beyond the arc. The Bronx native also nailed all five of his free-throw attempts in his last regular season game in Queens and grabbed six boards in 48 minutes of action.
Clark made seven of his 12 tries from the floor to finish with 20 points. He also recorded four rebounds, two blocks and a pair of assists in 46 minutes.
Tariq Owens added nine points, eight rebounds, and three blocks, becoming just the second player in program history alongside Chris Obekpa to surpass the 90-block mark in a single season.
Despite not scoring a point, Amar Alibegovic came up big for the Red Storm on more than a few occasions on Senior Night. The 6-foot-9 forward grabbed six rebounds, blocked two shots, and had one steal in 43 minutes.
St. John's played without the services of sophomore standout Shamorie Ponds, the BIG EAST's leading scorer at 21.6 points per contest, who was sidelined with an injury.
Down by five, 58-53, following a Kelan Martin layup with 17 seconds to play, the Johnnies dug deep and forced overtime. Simon quickly found Clark in transition for a triple with 12 seconds to go, cutting the Butler advantage to a pair. On the ensuing inbound, Butler tried to hit Martin with a full-court heave, but Clark was playing him so closely that the senior proved unable to grab the ball before stepping out of bounds, giving the Johnnies possession with 11 seconds to go. Needing to go the length of the floor, Simon did just that, driving the lane and laying it off glass to send the game in overtime.
The Red Storm appeared to have the victory locked up in the first extra period, extending its run to 11-0 with the first six points of the stanza. The Johnnies, however, went cold over the final two minutes, allowing Butler to answer with six of their own and send the game into a second overtime.
Over the next five minutes, Simon and Clark made sure that the second overtime would be the last of the night. With his team trailing by two, 68-66, and a minute and a half to go, Clark came across the paint to block a layup attempt from Nate Fowler. Simon grabbed the board and quickly found Clark in transition before the redshirt junior laid it in to knot the game at 68. On the ensuing defensive possession, Simon grabbed a tough rebound in traffic before finding the bottom of the bucket on the other end, giving the Johnnies their first lead of the period, 70-68. With Butler looking to tie the game, Simon came up with his fourth steal of the night before sinking two free throws on the other end, all but sealing the Red Storm's victory. The pair would go on to add three more points at the free throw line over the closing 30 seconds, extending the Red Storm's game-ending run to 9-0.
St. John's held Butler to just 35.1 percent shooting from the floor and a 28.6 percent effort from three-point range, both of which were substantially below the Bulldogs respective season averages of 47.9 and 36.6. The Bulldogs 35.1 percent showing from the field marked their second-lowest output during BIG EAST play.
Trailing 9-6 following a Sean McDermott three-ball with four minutes gone in the game, the Johnnies embarked on a 9-2 run to move ahead by four, 15-11, on a Clark jumper just over three minutes later. Owens led the way with four points on the spurt, including a full-court steal-and-slam to cap seven unanswered for the Red Storm.
Butler briefly retook the lead, 18-17, but the Johnnies responded with five unanswered, holding the Bulldogs scoreless for 6:12 and moving ahead by four, 22-18, with 7:18 to play in the half. Butler missed eight-straight shots during that stretch.
With his team trailing by one, 25-24, and less than a minute to play in the half, Simon made two spectacular individual efforts in the closing seconds. On back-to-back Butler possessions, Simon recorded a steal in the Bulldogs' end and took it the length of the floor, slamming it home on the first possession and laying it in through traffic on the latter. Following Simon's efforts, the Johnnies took a 28-25 lead into the locker room.
St. John's came out of the intermission with a vengeance, scoring the half's first nine points and holding the Bulldogs scoreless for the opening 4:22 to climb ahead by 12, 37-25, with 15:55 to go. Butler missed its first seven shot attempts of the period.
The Bulldogs quickly worked their way back into the game, scoring nine unanswered to pull within three, 37-34, just over two minutes later.
Leading 46-42, following an Ahmed jumper with 9:55 to play, St. John's went without a point for more than six minutes, failing to find the bottom of the bucket until an Owens free throw with 3:32 to go. Butler scored eight unanswered during that stretch to take a 50-46 edge.
The Johnnies responded with three-straight to pull within one, 50-49, with two and a half minutes to go, but the Red Storm would not tie the game again until Simon's layup with four seconds left.
St. John's returns to action on Saturday for its regular-season finale at the Dunkin' Donuts Center against Providence at noon.
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