Marquette 63, St. John's 61
Marquette is starting to figure out how to win the close ones.
Jimmy Butler recovered a loose ball and hit a baseline jumper as time expired to give the Golden Eagles a 63-61 overtime victory against St. John's on Wednesday night.
It was the 12th time this season Marquette was involved in a game that was decided by five points or less. Their record is 5-7 in those games, but the Golden Eagles have won the last four, including two straight in overtime.
``Because of the games we've been in, no situation rattles our guys because we've been through all of them,'' Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. ``I don't know if that's good or bad, but if they're all close, it prepares you for whatever the situation.''
There had even been one like this before for Butler and he came through then, too.
Butler hit a shot with 2.8 seconds left to give Marquette a 70-68 victory over Connecticut on Jan. 30, the first of the Golden Eagles' four straight close wins.
On Wednesday, Butler, who finished with 18 points, drove toward the basket with 5 seconds left and had the ball stripped away by St. John's Malik Boothe. He recovered it as the ball was heading out of bounds and the game was heading toward a second overtime. He turned and was able to get off the 17-footer and beat the buzzer to give the Golden Eagles (18-9, 9-6 Big East) their seventh win in the last eight games.
``I was just trying to make a play. It just so happened I did,'' Butler said. ``I just put my hands down and the ball popped right back into it. I was really kind of looking at the clock at the same time. I just turned and let it ride.''
Williams said the play, even though it broke down this time, was the same one that was run for Butler against Connecticut when he hit a fadeaway to win it.
``I'm 2 for 2 when it comes to something like that,'' Butler said.
``It's just another shot. Anybody could do that. ... It just so happened that Buzz put the ball in my hands to create.''
Lazar Hayward had 22 points for Marquette, which has beaten St. John's 10 straight times, a streak that dates to 1967. The win improved the Golden Eagles' road record in conference play to 4-4 after starting with four losses.
``Fortitude is probably the right word,'' Williams said of describing his team. ``Their character is as good as any team I've been around. I think fortune favors the brave.
``Look at all the stuff we've been in. It doesn't even make sense.''
D.J. Kennedy had 20 points for the Red Storm (15-12, 5-10) and it was his assist on a 3-pointer from the right corner by Boothe with 19 seconds left in regulation that tied the game at 54.
``I just had to make a play. They double-teamed me, I split the double-team and found Boothe open in the corner for a 3,'' Kennedy said matter of factly before talking about the loss. ``I'd rather lose by 20 than like that. It was almost like a Hail Mary shot.''
It was Boothe's seventh 3-pointer of the season that tied it, but it didn't match Butler's that won it.
``In a situation like that, when you're on the down side, it seems like the clock takes forever to tick,'' Kennedy said. ``He got the shot off and it was a great shot.''
The Red Storm had won three of four following a five-game losing streak.
``They're down. It's a resilient team. They have a lot of character,'' Red Storm coach Norm Roberts said. ``We'll have a good practice tomorrow and get ready for Pittsburgh on Saturday. That's life in the Big East.''
Hayward tied it at 61 with 50 seconds left when he converted Marquette's third offensive rebound of the possession.
The Golden Eagles came in fourth in the nation in 3-point shooting at 41.6 percent. They finished 5 of 18 (27.8 percent) against St. John's.
``We're not going to be hitting every night. We've been getting real lucky,'' said Hayward, who missed all five of his 3-point attempts. ``Tonight we were getting fouled, getting to the free throw line. That's how you overcome that.''
Marquette was 16 of 21 from the foul line, while St. John's was 11 of 13.