After injecting itself into the spotlight with consecutive wins over then-No. 4 Duke and No. 1 Villanova, St. John’s didn’t experience a letdown on Saturday.
Shamorie Ponds pumped in a career-high 44 points as the Red Storm won their third in a row, dumping Marquette 86-78 in a Big East Conference matchup at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, N.Y.
Justin Simon added 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists as the Red Storm (13-13, 2-11) made an astonishing 76.2 percent of their field goals in the second half. They canned 30-of-50 shots for the game and won the rebounding battle 37-31.
Andrew Rowsey valiantly tried to keep pace with Ponds, firing in a team-high 34 points for the Golden Eages (14-11, 5-8). Markus Howard and Sam Hauser added 18 apiece, but Marquette couldn’t overcome Ponds’ brilliance or missing nine straight shots late in the game.
Ponds, who entered the game averaging 30 points over his last three games, set an arena scoring record previously held by Malik Sealy by making two free throws with 57 seconds left.
He became the first St. John’s player to reach 40 points in a game since Marcus Hatten did it in 2003. The outburst is tied for the fourth-highest single-game point total in school history.
Both teams struggled to find their range with consistency during a first half that featured Rowsey and Ponds carrying the load for their respective teams.
Rowsey canned a 35-footer with the shot clock expiring to give Marquette a quick 6-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. Ponds responded with a layup and a 3 as St. John’s scored the next eight points, but Rowsey answered back with a 3-point play that made it 14-11 Golden Eagles.
Back-and-forth the duo went, scoring at will when no one else could. Rowsey finished the half with 19 points and Ponds had 17, but it was Ponds’ team that went to the half with a 34-32 lead thanks to his layup with 47 seconds remaining.
--Field Level Media