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Marquette 69, St. John's 67 (OT)

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Marquette earned a share of its first Big East Conference title on Saturday, but it took high drama to accomplish it.

Vander Blue's layup as time expired in overtime provided No. 15 Marquette with a 69-67 victory over St. John's at Madison Square Garden. Blue led the Golden Eagles with 16 points.

Marquette (23-7, 14-4 Big East) finished in a three-way tie with Georgetown and Louisville for the regular season conference title.

One of the surprising teams in the conference, the Golden Eagles return to Madison Square next week as a quarterfinalist, having received a double-bye. In its seven years in the Big East, Marquette has never won the conference tournament.

Coach Buzz Williams' team was selected to finish seventh in the conference in the preseason coaches poll.

The Red Storm had two chances to move ahead in overtime Saturday, but Felix Balamou missed a jumper with 23 seconds left and Phil Greene IV (20 points) didn't connect on a 3-pointer with 13 seconds to go.

St. John's (16-14, 8-10) trailed by as many as 14 points early in the second half before clawing its way back.

Trailing 63-54, St. John's scored nine unanswered points in the last 1:49 of regulation to send the game into overtime. Marco Bourgault, who struggled with his shot all game (3 for 13), nailed a key 3-pointer in the run. Guard Jamal Branch tied the game at 63-63 when he went coast-to-coast, scoring on an up-and-under layup with 22 seconds to play.

Trailing for the most of the first half, Marquette erased a six point deficit, 25-19, by going on a 9-0 burst in the last 5:19 to end with a 28-25 advantage. St. John's relied too much on its perimeter game in the half, failing to get to the foul line once.

The Red Storm connected on just one of their 10 shots from long range. The Marquette bench was a factor, garnering 14 points -- six each from Davante Gardner and Wilson.

Marquette opened the second half on a 13-2 run to increase its lead to 41-27. Blue led the barrage with six points. The Golden Eagles couldn't close it out, however, failing to score a field goal in the final four minutes of regulation.

Jamil Wilson scored four of his 14 points as Marquette outscored St. John's 9-3 to increase its lead to 61-53 with 2:46 to go in regulation. Wilson has scored in double figures in nine of his last 10 games.

NOTES: St. John's was without its leading scorer, D'Angelo Harrison, who was suspended for the remainder of the season March 3 because of what coach Steve Lavin described as "a pattern of failing to meet expected standards for conduct and behavior." The Red Storm was also minus Sir'Dominic Pointer, who was suspended for the game following his involvement in an altercation at Notre Dame on March 5. ... Although he comes off the Marquette bench, Gardner is third in the Big East in field-goal percentage at .575.
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