The lesson as always: Don’t fall behind by 15.
That’s what happened to Marquette on Tuesday night, as the #10 Golden Eagles trailed by a little early and a lot in the second half before making a furious rally only to come up short against St. John’s, 70-69. Marquette is now 8-2 in Big East play, with both losses coming against the Red Storm.
For the first 24 minutes or so, this game resembled the first one against the Johnnies this season an awful lot. Pretty much nothing was going right for the Golden Eagles as they looked disjointed, sloppy, and on top of that, they couldn’t buy a bucket, either. Meanwhile, on the other end, St. John’s was throwing the ball in the air wildly with hands in their faces and watching it fall through the net. The Red Storm led by 10 at the break, and a fast break bucket by Shamorie Ponds for two of his game high 28 points put St. John’s up 15, 49-34.
But Marquette didn’t fold up shop. Fouls started to accumulate on St. John’s and their tiny seven man rotation, eventually leading to four guys holding four fouls by the final horn. An 8-0 run featuring two buckets from Ed Morrow trimmed the lead to seven. Brendan Bailey’s only basket of the game came when he darted in to grab a ball that St. John’s had saved and put it up and in with ease to make it a five point game. Some free throws from Theo John and a triple from Sam Hauser on the break, and bangarang, it’s a one point game, 56-55, with 5:53 to go.
This is the stretch where St. John’s ultimately won the game.
They answered Hauser’s long range bomb and got the lead back to five, and then a three from Ponds pushed it to six with 3:59 left. In retrospect, letting them get that far away again in so little time is really what did Marquette in.
But it didn’t feel like that at the time. The Golden Eagles fought and fought, before finally, with 32 seconds left, Sacar Anim buried a three to put MU up 69-68. It was their first lead since 4-2 in the early going. But... breaking news. Shamorie Ponds is good. He got into the lane and scored.
Still, though, Marquette had 11 seconds after a timeout to answer. That’s a lot of time to do a lot of things.... but.... well.... Markus Howard lost his handle on the right wing, thought he had some space, didn’t have it, and then forced up a shot that never came anywhere near going down for the win.
MU had one final prayer of a chance to win when Marvin Clark II missed both of his free throws off the ensuing Theo John foul, but Sam Hauser’s prayer merely hit backboard, and that was that.
Ponds had a game high 28, with 19 coming in the second half as he shot 6-for-11 and made all six of his free throws. He is ridiculous, and if someone could do something about making sure that Marquette never has to play against him again, that would be super keen. Marquette was led by 19 points and 11 rebounds from Sam Hauser, but he had to shoot 3-for-12 from long range to get there. Howard finished with 17 points, but it took him 17 shots to get there. He was 4-for-8 from long range by the final horn, so that’s not too bad.
Up Next: National Marquette Day against Villanova. That’s not the kind of game that you want to head into after a frustrating loss, but that’s where Steve Wojciechowski and his squad find themselves.