Second-Half Surge Pushes St. John's Past Georgetown, 88-77|
March 7, 2018
NEW YORK - Last March at Madison Square Garden, the St. John's men's basketball team kept the Red Storm faithful on the edge of their seats until the final seconds, outlasting longtime rival Georgetown by one. This year, St. John's fans breathed a little easier at the end of their team's win over the Hoyas to open BIG EAST Tournament play, using a dominant second-half effort to down Georgetown, 88-77, on Wednesday night.
With their victory, the Johnnies (16-16) have earned a date with top-seeded Xavier in tomorrow's quarterfinal. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. on FS1.
The Red Storm shot 53.4 percent from the floor on the game, outscoring the Hoyas by a 46-29 margin in the final 20 minutes to overcome a six-point halftime deficit. After Georgetown converted at a 51.6 percent clip from the field in the opening 20 minutes, the Johnnies held the Hoyas to just an 8-of-31 (25.8%) effort in the latter stanza.
On the game, St. John's made 31 of its 58 field goal attempts. The Johnnies were especially efficient from the free throw line, converting on 21 of 26 chances, including a 7-for-7 first half effort.
After missing the last two games of the regular season, Shamorie Ponds showed no signs of rust on Wednesday night. The sophomore scored 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting and made eight of his nine tries from the free throw line. Bumping his season-long point total to 632, Ponds passed his head coach, Chris Mullin, for the program's sophomore scoring record. Mullin scored 629 for the Johnnies as a second-year player in 1982-82 while leading St. John's to a BIG EAST Championship.
Backcourt mate Justin Simon turned in yet another terrific all-around performance for St. John's, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals. The redshirt sophomore posted his team-leading ninth double-double in just 29 minutes of action after getting in early foul trouble.
Bashir Ahmed, the fifth member of the Red Storm to finish in double figures, put up 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks.
Georgetown jumped out to an early 10-2 lead on a Jessie Govan three with four and a quarter minutes gone in the game, but the Johnnies answered with five straight to trim the deficit to three.
St. John's cut the lead down to one on a pair of occasions before the midway mark of the period, but the Hoyas used a 13-4 run to build their advantage to double digits, 30-20, with 8:35 to go in the half.
Facing their largest deficit of the game, the Johnnies made some critical defensive adjustments that yielded immediate results during a 30-second timeout with 8:35 to go. With Simon back in the game after early foul trouble, the Red Storm rattled off eight-straight before extending its run to 12-1 on a pair of thunderous alley oops on back-to-back offensive trips from Simon and Owens. The latter slam gave St. John's its first lead of the game, 32-31, with just under four minutes to go in the half.
The Hoyas answered the Red Storm run by scoring nine-straight of their own, building their lead back as high as nine, 43-34, following another Marcus Derrickson triple with 1:33 remaining.
The Johnnies added two 3-pointers and a layup of their own in the closing 75 seconds, but Georgetown continued to hit as well, taking a six-point lead, 48-42, into the half.
The Johnnies cut the lead down to one, 48-47, less than a minute into the latter stanza before eventually knotting the game at 52 on an Owens baseline jumper with 16:24 to go. Following a stop on the defensive end, the Red Storm took its first advantage of the half, 54-52, on a pair of Ponds free throws, the first of five lead changes before the second media timeout of the period.
Georgetown pulled within five on three occasions over the next few minutes, but St. John's always seemed to have an answer. Leading 73-68 with six minutes to play, Clark scored five points in a 7-0 Red Storm spurt, expanding the Johnnies' lead to 12 and putting the game out of reach.
Tomorrow's quarterfinal matchup with the Musketeers will be broadcast live nationally on FS1 and will be available on 970 AM WNYM.
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