Jajuan Johnson scored 23 points off the bench on Wednesday night.
March 9, 2016
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NEW YORK (AP) - Henry Ellenson had 27 points and 14 rebounds, Jajuan Johnson scored 23 points and Marquette held off a furious rally by feisty St. John's for a 101-93 victory Wednesday night in the Big East Tournament.
Haanif Cheatham added 19 points for the seventh-seeded Golden Eagles (20-12). They advanced to play fifth-ranked and second-seeded Xavier in the quarterfinals Thursday night.
Facing a last-place team that managed only one conference victory all season, Marquette built a 17-point lead midway through the second half but then briefly fell behind in the final minutes. Ellenson and his teammates made just enough plays down the stretch to avoid an upset that would have all but ended any flickering hopes they have of an NCAA bid.
Christian Jones scored a career-high 29 points for the 10th-seeded Red Storm (8-24). They dropped 21 of their final 22 games in former star Chris Mullin's first season as coach.
Hours after winning Big East freshman of the year and picking up his trophy at Madison Square Garden, Ellenson shot 8 for 16 from the field and 9 of 10 at the foul line. Johnson hit all eight of his free throws, and Marquette was 38 for 43 (88.4 percent) at the line.
Marquette had a 17-point cushion with less than 12 minutes left before St. John's began cutting into the deficit — quickly. Durand Johnson's 3-pointer pulled the Red Storm to 83-80 with 5:03 remaining, and fans in the scattered crowd chanted "De-fense! De-fense!" as St. John's tried to complete a stunning comeback at the Garden, one of its two home courts.
After sinking 25 of their first 26 free throws, the Golden Eagles finally started missing a few from the line and St. John's capitalized. Ron Mvouika's open 3 put the Red Storm ahead 89-88 with 3:14 to play, their first lead since 11-9 early in the first half.
But then Ellenson drained a 3 from the corner seconds later, and Marquette never trailed again.
St. John's: Jones matched the school record for most points in a Big East Tournament game, tying a mark set by Malik Sealy, Walter Berry and Mullin (twice). ... St. John's is 0-4 against Marquette in the Big East Tournament since 2007. ... Former Marquette coaching great Al McGuire played three seasons at St. John's from 1948-51.
Marquette: Since joining the Big East for the 2005-06 season, Marquette is the only program in the conference to reach the tournament quarterfinals every year. But the Golden Eagles have never advanced past the semifinals. ... Duane Wilson had three of Marquette's five steals in the first 5 minutes. Jajuan Johnson had four steals in the first half and finished with five. He also had five rebounds and four assists. ... Marquette leads the all-time series 18-10. ... Cheatham was scoreless in 30 minutes during the regular-season finale, a loss at Butler. He had eight points in the first 4:51 of this one.
St. John's: Season is over.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles lost both matchups with Xavier this season by eight points.