Jamaica, N.Y.— St. John’s outlasted Butler, finally winning in overtime 77-73, in a grinding game at Carnesecca Arena in New York. Both Butler and St. John’s came into the game as part of a five way tie for third in the Big East. The win left St. John’s in sole possession of third place in the conference.
Butler struggled to score early as St. Johns jumped out to an early 13-3 lead powered by big man, Martin Clark II who hit two early 3-point shots from the wing. A soaring dunk off a rebound by St. John’s sophomore swing man, L.J. Figueroa, helped keep the Red Storm keep the initial 10 point advantage in the early going.
Butler tried switching defenses and pressing as both teams struggled to score in the middle of the first half. Scoring picked up as the first half finished with St. John’s guard Mustapha Heron leading the charge for the Red Storm with multiple drives to the basket. St. John’s led, 38-30 at the half. While they were unable to extend their early lead, St. John’s held a comfortable 8-10 point lead for the entire first half.
Some early 3-point misses at the start of the second half allowed Butler to creep back into the game but two slashing drives by Heron pushed the lead back up to 50-40 five minutes into the half.
Butler chipped away at the lead and by the middle of the second half, the St. John’s lead had narrowed to 51-49. Heron continued to drive aggressively to the basket and kept St. John’s in front but a 3-point shot by Butler’s Henry Baddley cut the lead to a single point at 55-54 with 7:47 left to play.
The game continued tight into the final minutes with St. John’s holding a three point lead after Butler’s Baldwin hit a floater off a set play coming out of a time out. The teams swapped 3-point shots by Clark II for St. John’s and by Butler’s Baldwin.
Down by three, Butler used a defensive lapse to hit center Nate Fowler for a lay-up after a botched switch and cut the St. John’s lead to 65-64. Butler’s Paul Jorgensen then hit a floater with :17 left to give Butler it’s first lead of the game.
St. John’s’ Ponds came down court and, with four seconds left, drove to the hoop and got fouled. He made the first of two shots to tie the score. Butler’s long 3-point shot at the buzzer bounced off the front rim, sending the game to overtime.
Butler took an early two point lead in overtime but on consecutive drives by Heron and Ponds, Butler was whistled for fouls and St. John’s took the lead. The Red Storm would hold the lead throughout the rest of the overtime period and go on to win 77-73.
Baldwin led the Bulldogs with 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting. St. John’s was paced by Heron’s 28 points which included going 10-of-12 from the foul line.
Both teams have home games later this week with St. John’s facing league-leading Villanova and Butler squaring of against DePaul at Hinkle Fieldhouse.