INDIANAPOLIS — Entering the contest having won two of its last three in Big East play, St. John’s ran into a red-hot Butler squad, as the Bulldogs sank 58 percent of their tries from the field and shot 13-for-26 from three-point range en route to a 110-86 victory at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Federico Mussini led the way for the Red Storm (12-15, 6-8), scoring 20 points in a game for the third time this season on 7-for-13 shooting, including a 4-for-7 effort from beyond the arc. The sophomore guard hit his 100th three-pointer in a Red Storm uniform late in the first half.
Freshman guard Shamorie Ponds sank all nine of his free throw attempts to finish with 18 points. The rookie from Brooklyn also dished out four assists and recorded four steals in a game for the eighth time this season. The other half of the Red Storm’s electric young backcourt duo, Marcus LoVett, tallied 15 points in 30 minutes.
Bashir Ahmed added 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting in addition to four rebounds and a pair of assists.
The Red Storm struggled on the boards, as Butler (20-6, 9-5) pulled down 40 rebounds to the Storm’s 25.
Both squads attempted an abnormally high number of free throws, as St. John’s went 27 of 37 from the charity stripe while Butler converted on 29 of 40 tries. Both teams set season-highs for attempts with those totals.
Butler started off hot on Wednesday night, sinking its first three field-goal attempts to move ahead 7-0 and force a St. John’s timeout 1:28 into the game.
After St. John’s cut the lead to five (at 12-7), Avery Woodson knocked down a pair of triples on a 9-0 Butler run, as the Bulldogs pulled ahead by 14 (at 21-7), with less than eight minutes gone in the contest.
St. John’s trimmed the deficit to single digits once again, but trailing by seven (32-25), the Red Storm saw Butler unleash a 7-0 run to move back ahead by 14 with just over four minutes to play in the half.
By the end of the opening stanza, the Bulldogs had extended their lead to 19.