It's like the basketball gods haven't punished the St. John's basketball team enough.
After a heartbreaking loss seven days ago in the final seconds against Creighton, the Johnnies found themselves staring down the barrel of a COVID outbreak that sidelined Rick Pitino and guard Jordan Dingle in a loss to Seton Hall, which the Red Storm trailed by as many as 28 points in the second half, but things started to turn around as Pitino was back on Saturday afternoon against No. 17 Marquette.
The Golden Eagles would take momentum back by scoring the final four points of the half and trail 34-28 at the break. All of its points came in the paint, shooting 0-for-11 from 3-point range, and that would not last forever.
The first made basket of the second half for Marquette was a 3-pointer that opened the floodgates, making 13-of-15 shots to begin the half and looking like it would blowout the Red Storm with a 13-point lead, 71-58, with 6:20 remaining.
Then, the faucet ran dry, despite shooting 75-percent (18-of-24) in the second half, and St. John's found its rhythm again.
The Johnnies were on a 14-2 run and The Garden was rocking. Marquette could not close the game at the free throw line and the Red Storm had its chance with 4.3 seconds left and needing to go the length of the floor.
Joel Soriano found Daniss Jenkins on the right wing for the win. The shot looked perfect. It came up short off the rim as Rick Pitino collapsed to his knees. Marquette (13-5, 4-3 Big East) won, 73-72.
"I cannot ask for a better shot than that," the Hall of Famer said. "I fell down thinking it was going in."
Jenkins also thought the shot was going it, but says he knows the reason why it didn't drop.
"I was hurt because I didn't hold my follow-through. I know that's why I missed the shot. The shot was right on line, it was just short. When it's short I flicked my wrist instead of holding [the follow-through]."
The basketball gods continue to torment the Red Storm, who were tied for first place in the Big East just 10 days ago and now have lost three consecutive games.
The Johnnies (12-7, 4-4 Big East), however, had other opportunities to get over the hump.
"Tonight, there was a moral victory," Pitino explained. "I thought we were undermanned. I thought our guys showed amazing character down the stretch to fight back against a very seasoned ball club."
Jenkins missed a free throw with 38.6 seconds remaining that would have tied the game at 72. Chris Ledlum missed a corner 3-pointer with 10.3 seconds remaining that would have given St. John's the lead.
Pitino called both shots at the end of regulation "great looks," but it was a day of 'what if's' for the Red Storm.
St. John's, now at a crossroads in its season, has to get off the mat on Wednesday night (8:30 p.m. ET, FoxSports1) against Villanova (11-6, 4-2 Big East), which it defeated by 10 points two weeks ago on the road.