NEW YORK – Wes Matthews finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds as Marquette ran over St. John's, 74-45, in the second round of the Big East Tournament.
Marquette led 38-10 at intermission, as they forced St. John's into 14 percent first-half shooting and a scoreless drought lasting 7:45 in the latter part of the half. St. John's 10 first half points set a Big East Tournament record for fewest points in a half.
"We were much better this game than we have been the previous four from a defensive perspective," said Marquette head coach Buzz Williams. "When we are able get consecutive stops, we are able to score much better playing down hill that we are taking the ball out under the net"
Marquette regressed a bit in the second half, committing 11 turnovers and allowing St. John's to go on a 6-0 run out of the gate. Yet the Golden Eagles' lead never dipped below 24 points during the half and grew to as many as 38 points with 4:27 remaining in the game.
Matthews was one of three Golden Eagles who finished with double-digit points and 9 rebounds. Lazar Hayward (17 points) and Jimmy Butler (11 points) were the others. The Golden Eagles outrebounded the Red Storm 41-22 and collected 17 offensive boards.
"[St. John's was] leading conference play, averaging 37 rebounds a game," said Williams. "So we had to block out and make sure we secured the defensive rebound. And we were able to do that at a very efficient and very high rate, particularly in the first half."
With Jerel McNeal sitting much of the first half with two early fouls, Marquette also got extended contributions from its bench. Butler and David Cubillan each saw around 25 minutes of action for the game. Cubillan scored 6 points while serving as the primary point guard for much of the second half.
"We're not the same team when ‘Rel's not playing," said Williams. "Cubillan was great for us the last 10 minutes of the first half, and then all of the other guys were able to step up and play around him."
The Golden Eagles improved 4-3 all-time in Big East Tournament play and will face No. 4-seed Villanova tomorrow at 2:00 PM EDT.
NOTES:With the win, Marquette snapped a 4-game losing streak. The team has also won 3 of its last 4 Big East Tournament games.