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St. John’s, playing without Shamorie Ponds, outlasts Butler in 2OT

Tariq Owens of the St. John's Red Storm

Tariq Owens of the St. John's Red Storm dunks the ball against the Butler Bulldogs during an NCAA men's basketball game at Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. Credit: Steven Ryan

St. John’s and shooting star Shamorie Ponds hit their low point on Jan. 27 inside Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse. Both the team and the guard scored a season low for points on the way to the 10th loss out of 11 straight to start the Big East run.

Ponds actually scored a career-low two points, but, like the team, he had picked up the pace since then. The conference’s leading scorer needed 24 in the rematch with the Bulldogs Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena to break coach Chris Mullin’s sophomore scoring record at the school that has stood for 35 years.

But Ponds would add zero to his total. The news flash came about an hour before the tipoff that the he was out with an abdominal strain. The Red Storm was unfazed. It beat Butler, 75-68, in double overtime.

Justin Simon scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for St. John’s (15-15, 4-13). Bashir Ahmed, playing his final regular-season home game on Senior Night, contributed 22 points, and Marvin Clark II had 20 points.

“It’s hard playing without one of the best guards in the country,” Simon said. “But we’re very versatile. On any given night, when we play together and play defense, anything can happen.”

Kelan Martin and Paul Jorgensen scored 17 apiece for the Bulldogs (19-11, 9-8), who beat St. John‘s 70-45 last time.

It was 64-64 heading to double overtime.

Clark stuffed a shot by Nate Fowler, then drove for two to tie it at 68-68. Kemar Baldwin missed a layup, and Simon drove into the lane for the lead. Simon hit two free throws at 30.3 and one more at 22.6 for a 73-68 advantage. Clark made two at the line at 13.8 to set the final margin.

It was 58-58 heading to overtime.

St. John’s scored the first six points of that extra session. But Baldwin canned a three to cut the lead to 64-61. Then Baldwin was fouled behind the arc and made all three free throws to tie it at 64 with 48.1 on the clock.

Back in regulation, the Bulldogs led 58-53 on Martin’s short runner with 17.1 seconds remaining.

Out of a timeout, Clark swished a right-side three, and it was down to two with 11 seconds on the clock. Butler’s inbounds pass went all the way downcourt and out of bounds. It was ruled St. John’s ball after a replay review. The Red Storm had to go the length of the court.

Simon ultimately drove, spun and scored with four seconds left, sending the game to OT.

With this win behind St. John’s, it will play at Providence Saturday before the Big East Tournament tips off next Wednesday. As Simon put it, “It definitely gives us another spark.”

New York Sports