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March 11, 2009

Golden Eagles Fly Over Red Storm

The #13 seeded St. John's Red Storm (16-17/7-13), having advanced to the second round by defeating Georgetown, faced the #5 seeded Golden Eagles of Marquette (24-8/13-6).

While the Hoyas win was impressive, on Wednesday against the Golden Eagles, the Red Storm would seem to have no legs to compete with the mobile and physical Marquette squad. The Red Storm's first half production would be the lowest in BIG EAST tournament history.

Ironically, it was the Johnnies previous opponent, Georgetown, who held the record, scoring only 14 points in 2001. Unable to put a dent into the Golden Eagles first half lead, the Red Storm would ultimately exit the BIG EAST tournament, 1-1, losing, 74-45.

Eager to snap a four game losing streak, Jerel McNeal would spark the Golden Eagles early and Marquette would go on a 7-1 run.

St, John's would have opportunities to stay close but D.J. Kennedy struggled from the foul line while Sean Evans, who was held to 4 point and 5 rebounds, missed early put backs as the St. John's shot a dismal 13.6% in the first half.

"We had some bunnies, had some easy shots inside and they (St. John's) just missed them, said Red Storm head Coach Norm Roberts.

Point guard Malik Boothe, who had 4 points and 1 assist, would finally score the Red Storms first field goal, with 13:56 but McNeal responded and the Johnnies found themselves down by 7 as Marquette's interior defense kept the Johnnies at bay. Wesley Matthews was also a problem for the Red Storm scoring a game high 20 points along with 3 assists.

Marquette would surge ahead 22-8 with 6:10 left in the half. A basket from the top of the key by Lazar Hayward would push the Golden Eagle lead to 21 points with 2:37 remaining, forcing Coach Roberts to call a timeout to regroup.

Haywood would immediately score again off a mismatch against Boothe as Marquette was on a 16-0 run. Justin Burrell (11 points and 3 rebounds) finally ended the drought with 1:30 left in the half, with a mind-range jumper as the crowd cheered but Wesley Matthews, scoring a game high 20 points, countered with a three pointer, followed by a lay-up by Jimmy Butler.

Paris Horne would foul Matthews on a fast break resulting from a turnover. Going 2-2 from the line, Mathews would put Marquette up 38-10 at half time.

The Johnnies came out more aggressive on both ends in the second half, temporarily putting a cap on Marquette's 45.2% first half shooting percentage but with 15:54 left in the game, Burrell would quickly pick up his fourth foul. Hayward, finishing with 17 points and 9 rebounds, would capitalize becoming more potent inside and soon the Marquette lead was 28.

Frustrated with the officiating, Coach Roberts would pick up a technical foul with 13:52 left in the game. The Johnnies second half field goal percentages did increase to 62% it would not be enough to dig them out of their first half hole.

Horne led St. John's with 15 point off of 6-15 shooting while Kennedy managed to add 11 points shooting 4-10.

When asked was the first half, perfect defense, Marquette Coach Buzz Williams responded with a smile, "They only scored three baskets, so it was relatively close."


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