Ponds explodes for 44 points to lead St. John’s past Marquette 86-78

NEW YORK — Shamorie Ponds continued his incredible play by scoring 44 points and resurgent St. John’s, coming off consecutive victories over top-five teams, defeated Marquette 86-78 on Saturday.

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Ponds was 16-of-23 shooting, making 4 of 7 from the arc and 8 of 9 free throws in becoming the first St. John’s player to reach 40 points since Marcus Hatten also scored 44 against Rutgers on March 6, 2003, tying for fourth-most in program history. It was also the most points scored in Carnesecca Arena/Alumni Hall.

Ponds scored 33 against No. 4 Duke and 26 versus No. 1 Villanova in a pair of victories that came after the Johnnies had lost 11 straight. The sophomore guard has scored 30-plus in six games this season, including three of his last four.

Justin Simon had 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for his second straight double-double and seventh this season for St. John’s (13-13, 2-11 Big East), which made 30 of 50 shots for 60 percent and was 40 percent from the arc (8 of 20).

Ahead 34-32 at halftime, St. John’s took its first double-digit lead, 71-61, with 7:40 left after consecutive 3-pointers by Ponds, to cap 13 straight points from the guard. The Golden Eagles (14-11, 5-8) got as close as seven with 1:19 remaining but a free throw by Marvin Clark II and two by Ponds put the Johnnies up 10.

Andrew Rowsey made six 3-pointers and scored 34 points for Marquette, which has lost five of its last six. Markus Howard, who came in as the Big East’s leading scorer at 22 points per game to Pond’s 20.5, finished with 18, as did Sam Hauser. The Golden Eagles shot only 41 percent overall but 40 percent (12 of 30) from the 3-point line.