NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Life without Dwyane Wade for Marquette appears more promising than life without Marcus Hatten for St. John's.
Travis Diener scored 18 points and came up with six steals to lead 23rd-ranked Marquette to a mistake-filled 52-45 victory over St. John's at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.
The season opener pitted Final Four squad Marquette against NIT champion St. John's, a pair of teams missing star perimeter players. Wade was a first-round pick of the Miami Heat and Hatten was cut in training camp by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Thursday's result mirrored the fates of the respective programs' stars. Diener made 9-of-10 foul shots and failed to commit a turnover as his heady play proved to be the difference, despite 20 turnovers by the Golden Eagles.
"We didn't take care of the ball like we wanted to," Diener said. "It wasn't like I was totally flawless out there. We'll get better."
Without Hatten, St. John's starting backcourt of Elijah Ingram and freshman Darryll Hill combined for 13 points and made just 6-of-17 shots.
Marquette was stifled by St. John's swarming zone defense, shooting just under 30 percent (16-of-54). Diener was the only player in double figures for the Golden Eagles.
Fortunately, the Red Storm's offense was equally inept, clicking at 31 percent (16-of-51) and making only 2-of-12 shots from the arc.
"I didn't think we attacked the zone," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "I don't think we got it inside. We didn't have that tonight, but our defense was there."
With both teams struggling to find the range, the game came down to the foul line. Diener's performance led to 87.5 percent (14-of-16) shooting for Marquette, while St. John's was just 11-of-22.
"No matter who you play against, it always seems to come down to the most simple things - layups and free throws," Red Storm coach Mike Jarvis said. "Both teams played well defensively, but one team made more free throws than the other, and that was the difference in the game."
Steve Novak made back-to-back 3-pointers - his only baskets of the game - to put Marquette ahead for good at 21-18 with 45 seconds left in the first half. The Golden Eagles extended the lead to 46-38 on a pair of free throws by Diener with 3:04 left.
Hill scored five points in a 20-second span to cut the deficit to three and the Red Storm had a chance to get closer. But Kyle Cuffe threw away a pass and fouled Diener, who drained a pair of free throws with 42 seconds left.
"Without Travis, we don't win games," Novak said. "He doesn't turn the ball over, that's what makes him so great. As a team, we really look to him."
Marquette was 6-of-6 from the line in the final 42 seconds, including four by Diener.
Novak scored eight points and Marquette's bench had 10 of its 11 points after halftime. Scott Merritt and Terry Sanders each grabbed seven rebounds to help the Golden Eagles to a 43-36 edge on the glass.
"To see on the stat sheet that we outrebounded this team, that's a very, very big deal," Crean said.
Grady Reynolds scored 11 points to lead St. John's and Cuffe added 10. Reynolds, however, was 4-of-13 from the floor and 3-of-7 from the line.
"I'm still trying to find my comfort zone, find my spots where I can shoot," Reynolds explained.
St. John's turned over the ball 18 times, including five by Cuffe. The Red Storm converted 11 offensive rebounds into just six points.