Jim Calhoun, Louis Orr, Mike Brey and now Norm Roberts can all tell you the same thing: number 20 on Marquette can play some basketball. Steve Novak scored 29 points, and added 8 rebounds in an 81-61 victory over St. John's on Al McGuire Night.
"Novak was unbelievable tonight," stated Roberts, St. John's head coach. "We have to give him credit for making some unbelievable shots tonight."
After struggling against the physical brand of basketball Pittsburgh played, Marquette responded against a St. John's team known for their defense and toughness.
"It's a tough, hard nosed aggressive style of basketball St. John's plays," stated Marquette head coach Tom Crean.
After the Red Storm briefly took a 36-35 lead at the 15:32 mark of second half, Marquette went on a decisive 13-0 run capped off by a Steve Novak four point play.
"We've really matured as a basketball team the past couple of weeks," stated Novak after the victory.
Despite playing with what he described as a slight separation of the AC joint in his right shoulder, Dominic James scored 16 points, 14 in the second half. James really became motivated after a tussle with Lamont Hamilton early in the second half.
"We recruited Dominic James out of high school," revealed Roberts in the post game press conference. "He's a terrific kid, and he's done a great job this season."
Along with the performances of Novak and James, the big story coming from tonight's game was the return of Wesley Matthews, who missed the first eight Big East games after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot in the Lewis game.
"As soon as the medical staff cleared him, we wanted to get him right back on the court," stated Crean.
Even though Matthews did not score a point in 17 minutes tonight, his return gave the team a big lift.
"It gave us a lot of confidence to have Wesley out there," stated James. "It's great to have his leadership back, and now we're ready to roll."
Ousmane Barro once again played a strong role off the bench, scoring 10 points and adding 5 rebounds in 20 spirited minutes of action. Along with providing a much needed post presence, Barro's all-around game caught the eyes of his teammates.
"Ousmane did a great of getting Steve open with his screens," added James. Along with Barro's screens for Novak, a strong pick in the backcourt briefly knocked Red Storm guard Eugene Lawrence out of the game.
Barro's effort was amplified by the fact Ryan Amoroso missed the game due to an undisclosed medical illness according to Crean. However, Crean expects that Amoroso will be back for the Villanova game.
Freshman Anthony Mason Jr. led St John's with 14 points, and added 11 rebounds, including two extremely impressive putbacks.
"Anthony Mason Jr. is a special, special talent," stated Crean. "Fans of St. John's will really enjoy him."
Lamont Hamilton added 12 points and 8 rebounds, and Daryll Hill 11 points and 9 assists for the Red Storm in the losing effort.
"We did a great job of playing the aggressive style of basketball that St. John's plays," stated Crean. "It was a great win on a special night, to play the team Al McGuire played for."
Novak's night does in St John's, 81-61
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