Marquette and St. John's in Big East tournament action. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)
BY RAY FLORIANI
The opening half was a game of runs. The two teams were even in the early going. Marquette then got out to an eleven-point lead with eight minutes to go. St. John’s responded with a run of their own, getting it to a two-possession game at the four-minute mark. Christian Jones was a scoring spark during that Red Storm run. All the good done by St.John’s and the 6-7 Jones soon dissipated. Several turnovers led to Marquette runouts, boosting the Golden Eagle lead back to double digits. The half ended with Marquette holding a 50-38 edge.
The second half saw Marquette maintain a double-digit lead for most of the period. The Golden Eagles began to struggle on offense, even missing from the charity stripe. St. John’s was opportunistic, hitting shots from beyond the arc, mid-range jumpers, and free throws. What was once a double-digit lead was down to one possession with minutes remaining.
A Ron Mvouika three-pointer gave the Red Storm a lead that was quickly answered by Henry Ellenson’s trey at the other end. In the stretch, it became Marquette’s trips to the line matched against St. John’s battling time and score on their offensive end. After Ellenson’s three, St. John’s never led, nor drew even again. The momentum after that big bucket shifted to Marquette. They rode it to the final buzzer.
Three quick observations:
1. The little things. Doing them, and in some cases, not doing some of them, separate the success of programs. Case in point: With one second left in the first half, Ellenson clearly secured a defensive rebound. In frustration, a St. John’s player fouled Ellenson. Double bonus, two shots, two points. Could have been avoided.
2. Speaking of Ellenson, he’s an offensive weapon. The Big East Freshman of the Year posted up in the first half before moving his 6-11 size out to the perimeter, where he knocked a few shots down, ending the night with 27 points and an effectiveness factor of 40.
3. Christian Jones, as noted before, provided some offense the first half. Jones kept it going in the final twenty minutes as the Red Storm made their run. He finished with a career-high 29 points, adding seven rebounds. The redshirt junior posted an effectiveness factor of 36.
Numbers of note:
Offensive efficiency: Marquette 130, St. John’s 109
eFG%: St. John’s 61, Marquette 61
Free Throw Rate: St. John’s 38, Marquette 83
Offensive Rebound%: St. John’s 36, Marquette 28
Turnover Rate: St.John’s 22, Marquette 18
NOTES: Both teams shot well, hitting 50 percent from three. Marquette was 8-of-16, St. John’s 5-of-10. Steve Wojciechowski’s club drew fouls. Marquette also made a few more trips to the line, having the lead late and St. John’s in a ‘fouling mode’ to extend the game.
Marquette is 20-12, and will face Xavier in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament on Thursday. St. John’s finishes 8-24.