No. 15 Marquette 69, St. John's 67

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 09, 2013
Vander Blue's driving shot fell through the rim as the overtime buzzer sounded, giving No. 15 Marquette a 69-67 victory over St. John's on Saturday at Madison Square Garden, and a share of the Big East regular season championship, their first title since joining the conference in 2005-06. Blue had 16 points, including four of Marquette's six in overtime, for the Golden Eagles (23-7, 14-4 Big East), who finished second in the Big East last season and were picked seventh in the preseason conference poll in November. This was their fourth straight win and sixth in seven games and the Golden Eagles get a bye to the quarterfinals on Thursday. No. 5 Georgetown clinched its share of the Big East title with a 61-39 win over No. 17 Syracuse earlier Saturday. No. 8 Louisville had a chance to make it a three-way with a later start against No. 24 Notre Dame. St. John's closed regulation on a 12-2 run, something most people didn't see coming as the Red Storm (16-14, 8-10), who lost their fourth straight and sixth of seven, struggled offensively except for the closing run. Jamal Branch tied the game at 63 with a coast-to-coast layup with 27 seconds left, capping the big run. Marquette ran a play as the clock wound down and turned the ball over in front of its bench but all St. John's could get off was a miss from midcourt. Jamil Wilson had 14 points and eight rebounds for Marquette. Phil Greene had 20 points for St. John's while JaKarr Sampson added 17 and Christian Jones had a career-high 10. The Red Storm will play in the Big East tournament's first round on Tuesday night. The Red Storm played without Sir'Dominic Porter, a high energy player who was suspended for one game after being involved in a fight in the previous game against Notre Dame. Marquette closed the first half on a 9-0 run to take a 28-25 lead, the Golden Eagles' first since 7-4 in the opening 3 1/2 minutes. Junior Cadougan capped the run with a 3-pointer - just the Golden Eagles' second in nine attempts - with 39 seconds left. The Red Storm went 0 for 8 from the field and committed two turnovers in the closing 4 minutes of the half. The Golden Eagles hit their first six shots of the second half, part of a 9-0 run that made it 37-25 with 18:07 to play. Marquette extended its lead to 41-27 and the Red Storm was able to get within 44-41 on a rebound dunk by Chris Obekpa with 12:12 to play. Both teams expected to struggle with its 3-point shooting since they held the last two spots in that statistic in the Big East. Wilson and Blue sandwiched 3s around a drive by Greene to give the Golden Eagles a 60-51 lead with 4 minutes left. They were 2 for 11 from long range when Wilson and Blue connected while the Red Storm were 1 for 11. St. John's finished 2 for 16 from 3-pointr range and 5 of 13 from the free throw line. It was St. John's third game since suspending leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison for the rest of the season for conduct detrimental to the team. Sampson has stepped up and averaged 17.0 points in the three games - all losses, the first two on the road. These schools were two of the seven that left the Big East to form their basketball-centric conference that will begin play next season under the name Big East with the tournament again played at Madison Square Garden.
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