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Marquette overpowers St. John's

Feb 15, 2009 - 6:12 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Marquette found the perfect remedy for its losing streak: a date with St. John's on Valentine's Day.

The 12th-ranked Golden Eagles used a late first-half surge as the catalyst for a 73-59 victory over the Red Storm in a Big East contest on Saturday.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Golden Eagles (21-4, 10-2 Big East) and extended a slide for St. John's (12-13, 3-10) to four games. Marquette also improved to 15-0 at home.

The Golden Eagles had been blitzed for 102 points in a loss to Villanova earlier in the week. Coach Buzz Williams switched up and didn't have the team take a shot until it hit the court to face St. John's.

"I told our guys, all of us in some sort of way ... we all grew up eating hamburgers," Williams said. "And I think over the last 10 days we probably thought that we deserved to eat steaks. We need to get back to eating hamburgers.

"If that means hamburgers with cheese or Hamburger Helper, that's got to be what our team is. We're not a filet mignon team."

Jerel McNeal and Lazar Hayward combined for 24 of Marquette's 32 points in the first half that ended with the Golden Eagles on an 8-0 run that provided an eight-point lead.

Paris Horne hit a shot from beyond the arc for the Red Storm to tie the game at 24-24 with 2:56 left before the break. That was the end of the scoring for St. John's as Jimmy Butler hit a jumper, McNeal added a layup and a pair of free throws before Hayward closed out the first half with another pair of foul shots.

The Red Storm had no answer for Marquette's defense.

"We know that's our edge," Dominic James said. "We're scoring enough points, we're shooting great percentages offensively, but we know that we can't win any games if we allow teams to dictate what they want to do on offense."

The rout went on after intermission as Marquette continued to grow the lead, opening up a 53-34 advantage before St. John's made a mini-run to cut the gap to 60-50.

Wesley Matthews jumped in to boost his teammates, scoring six points as the lead grew to 47-34. Dominic James then ran off six in a row of his own, lifting the gap to 19 points.

"Marquette's got veteran players, guys that make plays when they need them," St. John's coach Norm Roberts said. "We just turned the ball over way too much (24) tonight."

Horne then hit two 3-point shots while scoring eight points as St. John's went on a 16-7 run that cut the margin to 10 points. The Red Storm was able to get no closer as the Golden Eagles responded with a 6-0 surge to erase any hope for a comeback.

McNeal led Marquette with 20 points while Hayward added 18.

The Golden Eagles hit 28-of-55 shots (51 percent) despite only going 3-of-15 from long range.

Horne led the Red Storm with 23 points on 8-of-15 from the floor, including 6-of-10 from long range.

St. John's was 22-of-49 (45 percent) from the field.