January 6, 2020 / 12:18 AM / 13 days ago

Late run lifts Xavier past St. John's in Big East play

EditorsNote: Minor tweaks throughout

Jan 5, 2020; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Xavier Musketeers guard Paul Scruggs (1) shoots during the first half against the St. John's Red Storm forward Josh Roberts (1) at the Cintas Center. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Naji Marshall scored a game-high 20 points Sunday and host Xavier used a late 9-0 spurt to pull away from St. John’s for a 75-67 Big East Conference win at Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

Ahead 59-55 after St. John’s LJ Figueroa drove for a layup with 8:16 left, the Musketeers got a dunk from Tyrique Jones to trigger their game-sealing run. Jones added another jam and Quentin Goodin canned four foul shots to make it a 13-point advantage with 4:18 remaining.

Paul Scruggs added 14 for Xavier (12-3, 1-1), while Jones finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. KyKy Tandy came off the bench to net 12, going 4 of 6 from the 3-point line, as the Musketeers outscored the Red Storm 27-3 from distance.

Figueroa paced St. John’s (11-4, 0-2) with 17 points, but canned only 6 of 16 shots. Marcellus Earlington came off the bench to add 12 points and six rebounds before fouling out, and Mustapha Heron chipped in 11 points.

The Red Storm created 22 points off 19 turnovers, but failed to make enough shots to cash in a 69-52 advantage in field-goal attempts. They hit only 34.8 percent from the floor, including a dreadful 1 of 16 on 3-pointers.

Given the teams’ emphasis on defense, it wasn’t surprising that neither team lit up the scoreboard right away. Xavier led 4-3 at the first TV timeout just over four minutes into the game. St. John’s needed five possessions to get on the board.

The Red Storm found traction soon after the TV timeout, going on a 10-2 run to grab a 13-6 advantage on David Caraher’s two free throws with 13:09 left in the half. But the Musketeers controlled the next 4 1/2 minutes, taking a 19-18 edge with 8:38 remaining when Jones converted a layup.

The teams went back and forth for the half’s remainder, with Xavier landing the last blow. Down by one, the Musketeers found Marshall, who finished off a 15-point half by splashing a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left to give them a 34-32 advantage at the break.

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