After winning a close game on the road against Georgetown, Marquette hosted the St. John’s Red Storm and came away with an 82-68 win, expanding its winning streak to three games.
The first half of this game was sloppy on both sides, with several foul calls and turnovers. Marquette picked it up towards the end of the half, going on a 12-2 run.
The Golden Eagles went into halftime leading 37-31 and shot 41% from the field along with eight turnovers while the Red Storm shot just 32% and tallied seven turnovers.
The second half began in Marquette’s favor with senior guard Markus Howard being fouled. A technical foul on St. John’s guard Nick Rutherford allowed Howard to knock down five free throws in a row.
Offensively MU shot the ball much better early in the second half, going 5-for-6 from deep. The Golden Eagles finished the game shooting 38% from three, with Howard and Sacar Anim each hitting four from beyond the arc.
Anim attempted a career-high 11 threes. Despite missing seven threes, he was second on the team in scoring with 21 points.
“I took what the defense gave me and let the shots fly,” Anim said. “Markus is going to draw so much attention, which opens things (up) for a lot of us, so we have to be ready and take our opportunities.”
With just under ten minutes to go in the game, the Red Storm marched back going on a 10-0 run. They cut their deficit down to just two points with eight minutes remaining.
“I thought our guys handled their pressure really well overall except when we got a double-figure lead,” Wojciechowski said. “Our guys let our foot off the gas a little bit, and if you do that in this league it’s not gonna be good.”
Despite the comeback from the Red Storm, Marquette retained the lead throughout the second half. One of the reasons why MU kept that lead was due to their success from the free-throw line.
The Golden Eagles went 26-for-33 from the charity stripe, including Markus Howard going 12-for-13.
“When it’s at the end of the game and guys are fouling, having multiple guys you can give the ball too and more times than not will deliver from the line is very important,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said.
Another important factor in the Golden Eagles’ win was its five energizing dunks throughout the game. Anim, Jamal Cain and Brendan Bailey were among the Golden Eagles who notched the emphatic dunks that got the crowd on their feet, including a poster from Bailey right at the end.
“Brendan’s the dude who can jump out of the gym and Jamal as well,” Anim said.
Defensively, Marquette protected the rim well, as they recorded 10 blocks on the game, including six from starting forward Theo John, who is currently fourth in the BIG EAST in blocks per game.
Jayce Johnson also was a factor down low, contributing three assists and nine rebounds, tied for the team lead with Koby McEwen.
“Jayce is a really key factor for our team,” Anim said. “He creates a lot of second shots for us, and he changes the game as well as being a rim protector.”
Howard led the team in scoring with 32 points on 8-for-20 shooting. He is just one three-pointer shy of tying the record for most three-pointers made in BIG EAST play which is currently held by Seton Hall’s Jeremy Hazell.
“He’s a natural born scorer,” Wojciechowski said. “It’s pretty incredible what he’s doing from a scoring standpoint, you can take for granted what you’re seeing, but what you’re seeing is historical.”
With this win, MU gets its BIG EAST record above .500 at 4-3, after a 1-3 start. The Golden Eagles’ record currently slots them at fourth in the conference.
Marquette heads to Hinkle Fieldhouse too face No. 13 Butler on Friday at 8 p.m. Central Standard Time.
This article was written by Matt Yeazel. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MJYeazel.