INDIANAPOLIS, IN– The Butler Bulldogs found recent success at home, winning against Marquette for their first BIG EAST Conference win of the season. Unfortunately for Butler, they found themselves up against a tougher opponent, as the visiting St. John’s Red Storm held off a Butler rally early in the second half and coasted to a 69-52 victory in a BIG EAST game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday (Jan. 25). The loss drops the Bulldogs to 11-9 on the season and 1-7 in conference.
The Bulldogs started strong and even found themselves up with a ten-point lead behind sophomore guard Kellen Dunham with 10:06 remaining in the first half. Butler could not keep the Red Storm under control as St. John’s stormed back on a 26-9 run heading into halftime. The Red Storm stretched their lead to as many as 15 to start the second half, but Butler pulled within seven behind a pair of baskets from senior forward Khyle Marshall, a tricky layup from freshman guard Elijah Brown, and two key free throws from freshman Andrew Chrabascz with 8:44 remaining in regulation.
St. John’s answered Butler’s run with a final decisive charge. The Red Storm (12-8, 2-5 BE) closed out the game on a 12-2 run behind forward Jakarr Sampson (20 points, 7 rebounds) and guard Rysheed Jordan (16 points, 5 rebounds), and secured their second BIG EAST victory.
St. John’s out-rebounded the Bulldogs 35-21, including 10 boards on the offensive end. The rebounding margin led to ten 2nd chance points for the Red Storm.
“I think the biggest thing in tonight’s game is that our defense wasn’t as good as it needs to be in order for us to compete in games and have chances to win,” said Butler coach Brandon Miller. “We need to get better on that end of the floor, and that needs to start in our next practice.”
The Bulldogs had their best half of basketball, shooting wise, in the first. Butler shot 61.9% from the field against the Red Storm. Defense was truly lacking for the Bulldogs as they let St. John’s shoot 54.8% as well, including 5-8 from downtown (62.5%). Butler shot a season-low eight attempts from 3-point range, and connected on only one attempt, shooting 12.5% from beyond the arc. Dunham, who finished 1-5 from deep, had 13 points and 4 rebounds. Dunham’s three didn’t come until the 2nd half.
Butler and St. John’s met for just the second time as basketball opponents. St. John’s won the first meeting between the two teams, 76- 69, in the first round of the 1958 NIT at Madison Square Garden.
Marshall finished the game with 16 points and 4 rebounds, and added a block and a steal as well. Chrabascz finished with 8 points off the bench. Junior forward Kameron Woods added seven points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Butler will continue BIG EAST play on the road on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at Seton Hall.
Chris Fultz is a Senior Writer and the Butler Athletics beat writer for the Indiana Sports Report. Chris Fultz is recognized as an accredited member of the media by Butler University Athletics and has full media access.
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