St. John's Records 20th Victory Topping Georgetown, 81-70, at MSG|
Feb. 28, 2015
NEW YORK - St. John's rolled to its sixth victory in the last seven games and reached the 20-win plateau for the second-straight season with an 81-70 win over Georgetown (18-9, 10-6) on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The Red Storm led for nearly 38 minutes in an impressive Senior Day performance that featured career scoring highs from Phil Greene IV (26) and Sir'Dominic Pointer (24). Rysheed Jordan added 15 points and Jamal Branch had 10 points as St. John's completed the sweep of a three-game homestand.
Prior to the contest, St. John's (20-9, 9-7) honored its five-member senior class and team managers in their final regular-season contest at The Garden. Branch, Greene IV, Pointer, Khadim Ndiaye and D'Angelo Harrison were celebrated for their achievements on and off the court over the last four years.
"I feel very fortunate and blessed to have coached this group of players," said St. John's Head Coach Steve Lavin. "It's been a special experience to watch them progress over the years and to go out with a win over Georgetown in their last true home game at The Garden was very special."
The emotional pregame ceremony set the tone for a spirited effort as the Red Storm blew past the Hoyas in the 103rd edition of the old-school BIG EAST rivalry. St. John's put on a memorable performance for the 13,615 fans at "The World's Most Famous Arena." The Johnnies used a 16-3 run to open a double-digit advantage by the 14:37 mark in the first half and never looked back.
"Our team showed balance today," said Lavin. "They have more confidence now because different guys such as Phil [Greene IV] and Sir'Dominic [Pointer] have demonstrated the ability to step up and carry us. This group still hasn't played their best basketball."
Greene IV drained a career-high six 3-pointers, missing on only one attempt from downtown. He also matched Pointer with a team-high seven rebounds as they each played a full 40 minutes in the home finale. Pointer shot 8-for-15 from the field in his 14th straight double-digit scoring performance.
The Red Storm carried a 43-32 advantage into halftime, despite Harrison's limited action in the first half. The BIG EAST's second leading scorer picked up two quick fouls and played just 25 seconds in the stanza. Pointer, Greene IV and Jordan stepped up in his absence as all three players reached double-figures before intermission and combined for 34 points at the break. Branch scored six of his 10 points by halftime and finished with five rebounds before being sidelined with an injury in the second half.
"Jamal Branch had one of the better games in his career today," said Lavin. "He's had a number of good games this season such as at Creighton and at Xavier. Jamal was very sharp in his decision making."
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera drained one of his seven 3-pointers with 17:21 to go in regulation to trim the Hoyas' deficit to nine. St. John's answered with the next seven points to re-open a double-digit advantage it would maintain the rest of the way. Jordan and Branch converted consecutive layups and then Greene's signature 3-pointer from the corner put St. John's up 52-36 two minutes later.
Smith-Rivera finished with a game-high 29 points. Mikael Hopkins was the only other Hoya to score double-figures with 10 points to go with 14 rebounds.
St. John's led by as many as 17 points in the second half on Harrison's free-throw at the 7:18 mark. Harrison dished out three assists and grabbed three rebounds in the contest. Jordan also had three helpers to go with three steals. Chris Obekpa contributed five points, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals off the bench.
With Saturday's victory over Georgetown, the Red Storm completed the home portion of its regular-season slate with seven-straight BIG EAST wins. It also marked St. John's second win in the last three meetings with the Hoyas, and for the first time in 15 years the Red Storm's NCAA Tournament resume features wins over both Syracuse and Georgetown.
Winning six of eight games in February for the second-straight year, the Red Storm finishes the regular-season with a two-game road swing. St. John's visits Marquette on Wednesday at 9 p.m. eastern on FOX Sports 1 and 570 AM WMCA. The Red Storm completes the regular-season next Saturday against No. 6/6 Villanova at the Wells Fargo Center.