St. John’s basketball held off the Marquette Golden Eagles for its fourth straight win.
The St. John’s basketball program might be playing the best basketball in the Big East Conference besides the Villanova Wildcats.
On a day where the Red Storm (11-5, 5-6 Big East) were supposed to be playing the UConn Huskies in Queens, the Johnnies were shipped to Marquette (8-9, 4-7 Big East) to play the Golden Eagles, who was supposed to be idle and it showed as St. John’s came away with a 75-73 victory.
After a 5-0 start for Steve Wojciechowski’s team, St. John’s outscored Marquette 28-8, leading by as many as 15 points at halftime.
The Red Storm took that 15-point lead into the break because of a three-pointer from Julian Champagnie and steal, basket, and foul from Posh Alexander in the span of 15 seconds.
But Marquette would respond, erasing the 15-point deficit just over five minutes into the second half but St. John’s never blinked thanks to Alexander, Rasheem Dunn, and Dylan Addae-Wusu.
“Rasheem [Dunn] is a leader on our team,” Mike Anderson said of his senior point guard who hit two clutch free throws to push the St. John’s lead to four, 75-71, with 22 seconds remaining, “Rasheem is playing at a high-level for us and playing good minutes. He is a fifth-year guy and that is what you expect from a fifth-year guy.”
“It is great having Rasheem on the floor because he makes smart decisions and he makes plays for others just like me, the freshman Alexander said after his 15-point performance.
“Having him as a mentor is great because he is a senior and he is basically showing me how things go. I am so grateful to have him as a leader on our team and as a person I can look up too.”
But it was Alexander and Addae-Wusu who made the winning plays for St. John’s before Dunn’s free throws.
“They are growing up. It looked like they were battle-tested and had been in the fire,” Anderson said.
The Johnnies had not score in almost two minutes and did not make a field goal in almost five minutes and Alexander picked the pocket of DJ Carton, one of his six steals, at mid-court and coasted to the rim for a layup.
The Brooklyn, New York native said that he was motivated to take that steal because Carton scored on him with a pull-up jumper earlier in the second half.
“That steal was kind of personal because when I was guarding him, he scored… In my head [I thought] ‘I can’t believe he did that’. So I actually took that personal. I saw him coming off the screen and took it and went for the layup,” Alexander explained of his game saving play.
Alexander went on to explain that he takes it personally every time an opponent scores on him.
Addae-Wusu followed his freshman counterpart with an incredible layup, through contact, as the shot-clock was set to expire to give the Johnnies a three-point lead.
Julian Champagnie led St. John’s with 22 points and seven rebounds in the victory.
St. John’s basketball with biggest test of season awaiting
As the Johnnies get hot as February approaches, the top team in the Big East Conference for the last decade, No. 3 Villanova (11-1, 6-0 Big East), enters Queens looking to stay perfect.
The Wildcats have shown no signs of rust since its return to the court from a COVID-19 pause with three straight victories.
Posh Alexander says the team is taking things one step at a time, but isn’t looking for any moral victories against the Wildcats, rather the Johnnies are playing to win outright.
“I personally feel like we are going for a win and that should be our motivation for every game. It’s one game at a time, so Villanova is coming into our house next and we are looking to beat them.”
Anderson echoed those sentiments and elaborated by saying Villanova has the potential to “win it all,” but “it’s the biggest game of the year because it’s the next game.”
St. John’s and Villanova tip things off in Queens on Wednesday, February 3 at 9:00pm EST (CBS Sports Network).