St. John’s squeaked out a 77-73 overtime win over Butler Tuesday night at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, N.Y. Butler overcame a 13-point deficit, but couldn’t pull out the victory on the road.
With the win, St. John’s improves to 18-7 overall and 6-6 in BIG EAST play. The loss snaps a two-game winning streak for the Bulldogs, who are now 14-11 (5-7).
Mustapha Heron scored 28 points to lead the Red Storm. St. John’s went 15-of-20 from the free throw line, including two by Heron with 1.9 seconds remaining in overtime to ice the victory. On the night, Heron was 10-of-12 from the charity stripe.
After St. John’s had a 13-point lead in the first half, the Red Storm got up by 11 (51-40) midway through the second half before Butler scored the next 11 to tie the contest at 51-51. That was the first tie in the contest and breathed life into the Bulldogs.
St. John’s regained the lead at 62-56 with 5:42 to play. That coincided with Kamar Baldwin’s fourth foul. Butler’s shooting cooled during a 1-for-8 stretch, but St. John’s could not get separation beyond 65-60 with 2:08 to play.
The next six points would belong to the Bulldogs, including Paul Jorgensen’s contested runner that gave Butler its first lead of the contest at 66-65 with 12.1 seconds to play. On the ensuing St. John’s possession, Shamorie Ponds was fouled in the lane with 4.1 seconds to play, but was only able to convert one of the two free throws, tying the game. Baldwin’s pull-up three-point attempt caught the front rim as the regulation clock expired.
In overtime, St. John’s led, 75-70, with 1:15 remaining. After cutting the lead to only two, Butler forced a steal with less than 20 seconds to play, but didn’t get a good look and Heron gathered the rebound and was fouled. That is when he hit the two clinching free throws.
Ponds had 14 for St. John’s.
Baldwin led the Bulldogs with 16 points. Jorgensen scored 15 points to go along with a career-high nine rebounds. Henry Baddley added nine points and eight rebounds off the bench, as Butler’s reserves out-scored their counterparts, 32-2.
Butler committed a season-high 18 turnovers, compared to just eight by the Red Storm in the 45-minute contest. The Bulldogs did win the rebounding battle, 47-32.
Butler held St. John’s to 41 percent shooting, but could only muster 42-percent shooting of their own, including an 8-of-33 mark from three-point range.
St. John’s started hot in taking a 20-7 lead 10 minutes into the game. That initial surge was answered by Jorgensen, who scored a quick eight points in his return to his hometown.
Butler would trim the deficit all the way to five later in the first half before St. John’s took a 38-30 halftime lead behind seven three-pointers from the Red Storm and nine first-half turnovers committed by the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs return to Hinkle Fieldhouse for a Saturday evening match-up with DePaul. A limited number of tickets remain for the 8 p.m. tip.