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Marquette's Dawson Garcia and Theo John both flirted with double-doubles on Saturday before yet another double-digit deficit proved to be insurmountable for the Golden Eagles.
A 75-73 home loss to St. John's marked Marquette's third straight defeat while continuing a troubling trend of slow starts and close-but-not-enough finishes. The chance to rebound comes Tuesday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles host similarly struggling Butler at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
After trailing St. John's by 15 points at the break, the Golden Eagles tied the game 51-51 and trailed just 69-68 with 3:08 to go but couldn't complete the comeback. Garcia (20 points, nine rebounds) and John (16 points, eight rebounds) led the charge.
"Our guys battled like crazy in the second half," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "In the first half, I thought St. John's brought the fight to us. There's no question about that. We responded to it. But in Big East games, you can't dig yourself the hole that we did."
Marquette (8-9, 4-7 Big East) remains without frontcourt contributor Justin Lewis, who injured his ankle in practice Saturday. The timetable for his return is unclear, Wojciechowski said. Lewis is averaging 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds off the bench.
"Ankle injuries are tricky, so we don't know how long he will be out," Wojciechowski said. "But certainly we hope he's back sooner rather than later."
Butler (5-9, 4-7) has lost two straight after falling at home to Xavier 68-55 on Saturday. The Bulldogs slashed a 20-point deficit to four down the stretch but struggled to move the ball and connect from deep.
Butler was 5-for-25 from 3-point range as part of a 34.3 percent shooting effort while collecting just eight assists on 23 field goals. Bryce Nze buoyed the Bulldogs with 16 points and 11 rebounds in a game that marked the season debuts of Christian David (knee) and Bo Hodges (transfer).
Hodges had 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks in his first game since March. Most recently part of the program at East Tennessee State, Hodges was declared eligible shortly before tipoff Saturday, as the NCAA reversed a previous ruling.
"Without going into specifics, much of the last year has been tough for Bo personally and academically," Bulldogs coach LaVall Jordan said. "While his situation has been more difficult than most and goes beyond the hardships of COVID-19, he is not alone as almost every student-athlete and student has been impacted in some way.
"We appreciate the NCAA reconsidering its initial decision regarding Bo's immediate eligibility."
The Bulldogs are 1-5 on the road in conference play compared to 3-2 at home.
--Field Level Media