Red Storm Rally Just Short As Marquette Prevails, 57-55, In BIG EAST Second Round|
March 10, 2010
NEW YORK (Jim A. O'Connell, AP) - In Marquette's 19 games against conference foes this season, the Golden Eagles have had 12 games decided by three points or less. They have won six of the last seven of those games, the latest a 57-55 victory over St. John's on Wednesday in the second round of the BIG EAST tournament.
The Golden Eagles (21-10) looked like they were on their way to a much easier victory against St. John's (17-15) in a rematch of a second-round matchup from last season. Marquette won that game 74-45 and it was ahead 27-17 at halftime Wednesday, the Red Storm's worst half of the season as they shot 29.6 percent (8-of-27).
St. John's, which trailed by 14 points in the first half, started hitting shots and dominating the backboards. The Red Storm, who had a 22-6 rebound advantage in the second half (36-23 for the game), took the lead three times, bringing a crowd of about 15,000 at Madison Square Garden to its feet.
The last Red Storm lead was 53-52 after a free throw by Paris Horne with 2:22 to go. David Cubillan's 3-pointer with 1:11 left gave Marquette the lead for good at 55-53. D.J. Kennedy of St. John's was then forced into a tieup and the possession arrow favored Marquette.
"I felt like when I had an opportunity to make a play for the team, it's a play I usually make," Kennedy said. "I just wasn't able to get an opportunity to make a play for my team. It was great defense by Hayward."
Lazar Hayward had 20 points and nine rebounds for Marquette. His two free throws with 35 seconds left made it a four-point game and despite the Golden Eagles missing the front end of two 1-and-1s in the final 19 seconds, the Red Storm only managed one field goal the rest of the way and a desperation 3 at the buzzer by Malik Boothe was short.
It was Marquette's 11th straight win over St. John's, which was led by Kennedy and Sean Evans with 12 points each. When these teams met at St. John's on Feb. 24, Jimmy Butler hit a shot at the overtime buzzer for a 63-61 Marquette victory.
"Coach (Norm) Roberts doesn't get the credit he deserves for how hard his players play," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "If you ask our players who's the hardest playing team in the league, they would say St. John's. I thought they were the hardest playing team today."
But that wasn't enough to keep the Red Storm, who beat Connecticut 73-51 on Tuesday, out of the quarterfinals again, a round they last reached in 2003.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well in the first half, but we came back," Roberts said. "We just talked about make the extra pass, make one more pass - they do a great job of rotating in the first half and making the ball stick in our hands a little bit. I thought the guys did a good job of making the extra pass in the second half."
Marquette entered the game ninth in the nation in 3-point shooting at 39.9 percent. That number improved after a 10-of-18 effort against St. John's, which was just 3-of-15 from beyond the arc.
The Red Storm is NIT eligible and waits for a possible berth when selection occurs on Sunday, March 14.