|RJ Luis Jr goes up for a basket. @StJohnsBball.
In the latest in a familiar pattern for the St. John's Red Storm this season, they had a strong start to the game and were smoked in the second half, in this case by the Marquette Golden Eagles on their way to an 86-75 win on Saturday night.
St. John's dropped to 6-7 in Big East play (14-10 overall), while Marquette, who entered as the 7th-ranked team in the country, improved to 9-3 in the Big East and 18-5 overall. Marquette took both games against St. John's this season, as they also won a nailbiter at Madison Square Garden on January 20.
After the teams played even for the first seven minutes, the Red Storm went on a 12-2 run capped by a Chris Ledlum three-pointer at the 9:36 mark that made it 28-18. They kept it going, powered by 12 points from Daniss Jenkins and 11 from RJ Luis Jr., to take a 47-38 lead into halftime.
The second half was a different story from the jump, as Marquette went on a 17-7 run in the first four minutes and 44 seconds to take a 55-54 lead on a David Joplin three-pointer.
St. John's would battle back, and reclaim the lead, at 65-62, on a Nahiem Alleyne three with 10:24 remaining.
Though they would be tied at 69 with 6:37 left, St. John's never led again. From when Marquette led 75-73 with 4:11 left, they closed the game on an 11-2 run, with the win sealed by a Tyler Kolek three-pointer with 36 seconds left that made it 86-75.
In the second half, Marquette shot 59.4 percent (19-32) to St. John's 35.5 percent (11-31), and behind the arc, Marquette was 8-15 (53.3 percent), while St. John's was just 4-14, or 28.6 percent from long range.
Kolek put up 22 points in the second half, as he shot an astonishing 9-13 from the field and 4-6 from behind the arc, with seven assists and four rebounds. He finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds to give him a double-double, along with seven rebounds and two steals in the game.
Stevie Mitchell had 14 points (5-8 FG, 2-3 threes), with a rebound, while Oso Ighodaro had nine points (4-8 FG), nine rebounds, and four assists.
St. John's was led by Daniss Jenkins, who had 22 points (9-19 FG, 4-9 on threes), with six rebounds and six assists. RJ Luis Jr. had 13 points (6-11 FG, 1-4 threes), with three rebounds and an assist. Chris Ledlum had 11 points (4-12 FG, 1-5 threes), with seven rebounds and five asssists.
PITINO POSTGAME: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media after the game, and he opened with this statement: "I don't have much to say. We realize that our defense is not great, so we have been trying to pick up our offense. We did a great job in the first half and in the second half, our defense was very porous, just by attention to detail. We are very disappointed. We'll get on with Providence and move forward." (SJU is at Providence on Tuesday night)
On how the team came out after halftime: "Well, [Marquette] came out and shot an open three and shot an open three. For no rhyme or reason in the zone, we didn't pay attention to their personnel and it's happened before. You know, they did it to us at our place, but when they shoot 52 percent from three, I don't care how good you're shooting the ball. You're not going to win. Our defense has hurt us most of the season and tonight was no different."
On opportunities the team has had but has gotten away from them: "Well, that's what happens in the first year when you're not a disciplined defensive team. That's what happens. It's not going to happen in the first year. It's not going to happen. I'm sorry, it's not. We'll play hard and you'll see some displays of brilliance at times, but it's not going to happen because unless you have a mindset of guarding people on every single possession, it's not going to happen and that's the mindset that they have. We're improving offensively, but defensively we still have the same problems. It is what it is. It's the first year. We are building a program and you gotta build a program on defense."