Coming into Tuesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, Xavier and St. John’s were both squarely on the tournament bubble. Xavier picked up a key road win when they defeated St. John’s by a score of 65-53.
The effort level was high for both teams right from the outset, but the play in the first half was difficult to watch at times. Both teams struggled with sloppy passing, walks and missed shots in the paint. The Musketeers held a 31-30 lead at the half thanks to 10 points from junior center Matt Stainbrook. Stainbrook was a perfect 5-5 from the field in the first half. Orlando Sanchez kept the Red Storm in the game with 11 points off the bench.
Xavier got some breathing room with about 9 minutes to go in the second half when they stretched the lead to 8 points. Freshman forward Jalen Reynolds led the charge for the Musketeers in the second half. Reynolds came off the bench to score 17 points and grab 16 rebounds. Xavier’s defense against D’Angelo Harrison, the leading scorer for the Red Storm, was solid all night. The Musketeers held Harrison to just 4 points. Xavier sealed the double-digit win by hitting 12 consecutive free throws to end the game.
With the win, Xavier improved their record to 19-9 overall and 9-6 in the conference. St. John’s fell 18-11 on the year and an even 8-8 in the conference. St. John’s will host DePaul and travel to Marquette to end the season. Xavier still has a chance to add multiple signature wins to their tournament resume. Xavier will host #9 Creighton on March 1 and #8 Villanova on March 6. In between those two games, the Musketeers will travel to Seton Hall.