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February 25, 2010

Marquette Edges St. John's In O.T.

It will definitely be known as the one that got away. And, this game will go down as one of the most memorable matchups of the 2009-10 season thus far.

In the Johnnies' first overtime game since last season, Marquette defeated St. John's (15-12, 5-10 BIG EAST) on a 17-footer by Golden Eagles' junior forward Jimmy Butler. Butler, who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, knocked down the off-balanced baseline jumper after recovering from a near stolen ball by STJ junior point guard Malik Boothe. to lift his squad by a deuce at the buzzer, 63-61.

"That's probably one of the hardest games in the world to live with," junior swingman D.J. Kennedy. said. "I rather get beat by 20 than lose by a buzzer-beater shot like that. Just for the fact knowing you gave it all you got and it came down to - it was almost like a hail-mary shot to win the game."

Kennedy, who had a team-high 20 points on 5-for-10 shooting and 9-for-11 from the charity stripe, hit Boothe with the pass for the tying 3-pointer with 21 seconds left in regulation that sent the game into overtime.

Marquette's big man, senior forward Lazar Hayward., held his own with the physical junior forward Justin Burrell. down low. While Hayward netted a game-high 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds, the Golden Eagles' low post-man got Burrell into foul trouble. Burrell, although called for some questionable fouls, ultimately, frustratingly fouled out with 3:21 remaining in overtime.

The Johnnies battled with a talented Golden Eagles squad (18-9, 9-6), making toughness plays and inflicting a severe man pressure defense. And though the squads tied the game seven times throughout the contest, St. John's scrapped its way to lead by as much as eight points with 10:35 left in the first half. The margin was the largest held by either squad (Marquette held only as much as a three-point advantage at the 2:20 mark in the second stanza).

Truly, it was a disappointing loss for the Johnnies, who shot better from the field than Marquette (41.8 percent, 23-for-55), capitalized more than the Golden Eagles did on their multiple opportunities at the charity stripe (84.6 percent, 11-for-13), outrebounded the competition (38-36) and led for the majority of the contest.

St. John's even led Marquette at the half 29-25.

Marquette head coach Buzz Williams. said that St. John's doesn't get enough credit, admitting that it was because of the pressure the Johnnies were applying against them that caused their lower scoring percentages.

The Golden Eagles, who are currently receiving votes for a national ranking in the AP poll, are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the BIG EAST. However, the Milwaukee, Wis. squad was held to only 5-for-18 from the perimeter (27.8 percent) and 21-for-61 (34.4 percent) from the field.

Even though St. John's had one of its most complete games on both ends of the hardwood against quality conference competition, the Johnnies are not satisfied with the proverbial moral victory.

"I'm always proud of my guys, but the object is to win the game," said STJ head coach Norm Roberts.. "We didn't win the game."

It is definitely not the kind of game you want to lose, considering St. John's celebrated Senior Night on Wednesday at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, N.Y. This is especially true when the lone senior player is Anthony Mason Jr. . - the squad's redshirt, fifth-year senior forward - who had his father, Anthony Mason Sr., mother, Monica Bryant, and brother, Marvell, in attendance. Mason, who became the 45th member of the 1,000-point club in STJ program history last Saturday, aided the Johnnies with eight points and six rebounds in the Marquette matchup.

Still, St. John's can take a lot of positives from this game before the team closes out its conference home games at Madison Square Garden against No. 12/16 Pitt on Saturday.

"It's a resilient group, got a lot of character in the room," said Roberts. "We'll fight back, we'll have a good practice tomorrow [and] get ready for Pittsburgh . . . It's what it is - life in the BIG EAST."


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