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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Howard’s scoring helps No. 23 Marquette go to first BIG EAST semifinal in Wojo era

Photo by Jordan Johnson

For the first time in the Steve Wojciechowski era, Marquette men’s basketball will be playing in the BIG EAST Tournament semifinals, two games away from a conference title.

The No. 23 Golden Eagles outlasted the St. John’s Red Storm 86-54 Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

After Marquette led for double-digits for much of the game, St. John’s cut the lead to two possessions with 14:49 left. BIG EAST Player of the Year Markus Howard removed any doubt of a St. John’s comeback with a 7-0 individual run in 50 seconds.

“When they got on that run, we stuck together,” Howard said. “We stayed positive. We knew that we were going to have to throw a punch back in order to stay in the game and extend the lead.”

Seventeen of Howard’s 30 points came after the under-16 media timeout in the second half, helping MU avoid a fifth consecutive second-half let-up.

His 30-point performance was also the best Marquette single-game scoring performance in BIG EAST Tournament history.

“Markus is the BIG EAST Player of the Year for a reason,” Wojciechowski said. “He can score. … Every team’s game plan is geared to stop him.”

Howard’s big night came despite five first-half turnovers against the Red Storm.

Thursday night’s win was practically the opposite of Marquette’s first two games against the Red Storm this season, both of which were losses.

St. John’s point guard Shamorie Ponds, who scored a combined 54 points in the first two games against the Golden Eagles, scored just 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting at The Garden.

After allowing St. John’s to shoot at least 45 percent from the field in the first two games, Marquette locked down defensively Thursday night. The Red Storm shot just 33 percent from the field and 15 percent from the perimeter in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinal.

“Our defense was outstanding,” Wojciechowski said. “It all started with our defense.”

The Red Storm had a 25-8 advantage on the fastbreak in the first two games, but Thursday MU did not allow a fastbreak point until the 15:59 mark in the second half.

Howard’s 30-point performance overshadowed an otherwise impressive day for redshirt junior Sacar Anim, who scored 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting. He also had three 3-pointers.

“Our team is at our best when Sacar is in attack mode,” Wojciechowski said. “Our team takes on a whole another level.”

Anim deflected credit to the team’s outside shooters.

“Obviously I have terrific shooting around me,” Anim said. “I can get in there and be able to make a great decision either to be able to finish or kick it out for a three.”

The win came following a four-game losing streak that included losses at home to Creighton and Georgetown, neither of which are expected to make the NCAA Tournament.

“We took a lot of things from those four things, and we learned from them,” junior forward Sam Hauser said. “It showed tonight, but obviously we didn’t come here just for one game.”

Marquette will play the winner of third-seeded Seton Hall and sixth-seeded Georgetown in the BIG EAST Tournament semifinal Friday at 8 p.m. Central Time. The Seton Hall-Georgetown game will tip off Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Central Time.

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    David WambachMar 15, 2019 at 3:21 am

    Although the author’s use of “outlasted” is correct as a matter of dictionary definitions, it is a poor word choice as to this game. It would be far more appropriate in a double or triple overtime win. Yes, St.John’s came within 2 points in the second half, but Marquette suffocated St.John’s the rest of the way and won by more than 30 points; even with resting their starters for the last 3 or four minutes.