NEW YORK — Markus Howard scored 12 of his 30 points in a game-breaking 23-2 second-half run, and No. 23 Marquette snapped its four-game losing streak with an 86-54 rout of St. John’s in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals Thursday night.
Fellow guard Sacar Anim added 13 points as the second-seeded Golden Eagles (24-8) beat seventh-seeded St. John’s (21-12) for the first time in three tries this season. Sam Hauser had 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“It was as complete a performance as we’ve had in some time,” coach Steve Wojciechowski said.
The win advanced Marquette to its first Big East semifinal since 2010 against No. 3 seed Seton Hall or No. 6 seed Georgetown, who played in the late quarterfinal at Madison Square Garden. The Golden Eagles split with both teams.
Justin Simon had 14 points and eight rebounds to lead the Red Storm, who haven’t reached the conference semifinals since 2000. Leading scorer Shamorie Ponds was held to 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
The loss leaves St. John’s on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, with five losses in its final seven games.
Marquette came into the tournament as somewhat of a question mark. After excelling all season, the Golden Eagles blew four second-half leads in hitting the skids.
And the trend seemed to be continuing when St. John’s opened the second half with an 11-5 run to cut Marquette’s 12-point halftime lead to 43-37 on a slam by Simon.
That had Madison Square Garden rocking with 14:57 left and prompted Wojciechowski to take a 30-second timeout.
Whatever he said, it worked.
Howard, the Big East player of the year, sandwiched two layups around three free throws to push the lead to 50-37.
After Ponds scored on a drive, Joey Hauser scored on one of his own, Howard hit a wild, off-balance layup and a 3-pointer, and Ed Morrow had a dunk to make 59-39.
Marquette scored the next seven points to open a 66-39 lead, ending a 16-point run.
Howard, held to 25 points combined in the two regular-season losses to St. John’s, finished 8 of 15 from the field in his 10th 30-point game of the season.
St. John’s: Will find out Sunday where it plays next. The Red Storm, who defeated DePaul in the opening round Wednesday night, are hoping for their first NCAA Tournament berth in four years under coach Chris Mullin.
Marquette: Going to the NCAAs, but still wants to end defending national champion Villanova’s run of back-to-back titles in this event.
St. John’s: The NCAA Tournament or NIT.
Marquette: Plays in the semifinals on Friday night