St. John’s three-guard offense essentially was reduced to a one-guard offense by Georgetown in its 68-56 victory over the Red Storm on Saturday afternoon at Washington’s Verizon Center. D’Angelo Harrison was held to a career-low two points, and Jamal Branch suffered a left knee sprain with just over 17 minutes to go after scoring only two points, leaving only Phil Greene among the starting backcourt trio.
Enter little-used junior Marc-Antoine Bourgault, a 6-6 native of St. Malo, France. Bourgault, who is better known to his teammates as “Marco,” came out firing on his way to a career-high 12 points on 5 of 10 shooting. Two of his baskets were from three-point range, and one of those needed a new area code because it was launched from the 28-30-foot range.
“Bourgault is a heck of a shooter, and he does that every day in practice,” coach Steve Lavin said. “We’ve got to try and find more minutes for him because he stretches defenses and has a great touch and underrated feel for the game. Under tough conditions, he came in and was ready when he didn’t play in the first half. We called his number, and he delivered.
“That was one of the few bright spots if you’re looking for a silver lining…Marco was inspiring to all of us. He’s been lower than a snake’s belly. He came here from junior college expecting to play, and he’s gotten zilch, nothing but splinters in his fanny. Then, he stepped up today and had a heck of a game. So, we have to draw from that spirit, and that’s the kind of thing that will help us win against UConn.”
St. John’s next game is against Connecticut on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Branch will undergo evaluation before then, but his status is uncertain at best and it appeared he might miss some time. His loss would compromise the Red Storm’s backcourt depth.
Asked if he would stick with a three-guard lineup with Bourgault in place of Branch, Lavin said it’s a question he’ll have to examine closely. The alternative is to go to a bigger lineup that likely would include post man Chris Obekpa.
“UConn is going to play zone, so, that may favor Marco,” Lavin said.
Bourgault certainly impressed his teammates. JaKarr Sampson, who led the Red Storm with 18 points, said, “Marco is a scorer. He needs to do that more. He doesn’t shoot the ball [enough], and he’s a shooter. He doesn’t have to be on the three-point line. He can be two steps back. Hopefully, this is his coming-out party.”
Asked following the game if he was surprised by his performance, Bourgault shook his head, smiled and said, “I’ve been playing like that all week in practice.”