St. John’s knocks off Georgetown in Big East Tournament opener

 

Georgetown’s basketball season comes to a heartbreaking end when the Hoyas fell to St. John’s, 74-73 in the opening round of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday evening.

“Big time win for us,” Mark Ellison, who finished with 11 points, six rebounds and eight rebounds, said. “Obviously there’s been a huge rivalry over the last 40 years. And it was great that we came together as a team and we got the victory.”

St. John’s freshman guard Shamorie Ponds finished with a team-high 17 points, and five rebounds to lead the Red Storm to their first Big East Tournament win since 2011 when they beat Rutgers, 65-63.

Forward Bashmir Ahmed added 14 points and five rebounds.

Georgetown’s L.J. Peak tallied 24 points-22 points in the second half-despite dealing with foul trouble in the first half.

“That’s just how I play,” Peak said. “It’s something I do, and I have to impact the game somehow.”

Graduate transfer Rodney Pryor scored 17 points and shot 3-10 from deep in his final college game of his career. It didn’t end the way he wanted it to, but he believed it was a blessing to play in the Big East.

“It’s just a blessing,” Pryor said. “It’s what I signed up for. I knew the Big East was going to be like this. It was just a blessing to be part of it.”

Georgetown took an early 18-9 lead in the first half, but the Red Storm went to a 8-2 run to cut the deficit down to two.

In the final two minutes of the first half, the Red Storm took a 38-34 lead thanks to free throws by Ellison, and a layup by Ponds with 33 seconds left.

St. John’s came out of halftime and took a 51-43 lead. Ellison’s dunk with 16:22 remaining in the game sparked the Red Storm.

“I think we came out and end of the first half we set the tone. We wanted to run,” Ponds said. “They came out in the second half and got on a run, and we just took over the game.”

Georgetown, and St. John’s rivalry was on display in middle of the second half when both teams got into a huge altercation, which involved the coaches. Technical fouls were issued to both teams.

“Kids were playing hard, and coaches were coaching hard,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. “I think it’s just the heat of the battle.”

Ponds responded back to the fight with a three pointer that gave St. John’s a 62-56 lead.

“It was a lot of emotions, I love games like that,” Ponds said. “So when the crowd is going and both teams are playing physical, I just live for moments like that.”

Peak went on an offensive surge by scoring 14 straight points, which help the Hoyas come back.

“Just wanting to win,” Peak said. “Just fighting hard, two teams fighting hard and just making plays.

St. John’s Darien Williams nailed a clutch jumper to put the Red Storm up 74-68 with three minutes left in the game.

Georgetown scored five straights baskets to cut the deficit down to one with 42 seconds remaining.

In the last seconds of the game, Peak drove to the rim, and his layup was blocked by Tariq Owens, which allowed the Red Storm to live for another day.

St. John’s had a team tournament high seven blocks and six steals. The Red Storm scored 12 points off of turnovers.

St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin had some words to say to Georgetown’s Assistant Coach Patrick Ewing Jr. after the game.

“Asked if he was going to beat me up like his father did,” Mullin said. “He said ‘no, I love you,’ so I said OK. Just tremendous respect there. And it was nothing more than competitive juices, nothing more than that.”

The Red Storm win over the Hoyas was the second time they beat their rival in the Big East Tournament.

The loss ended a long, and disappointing season for Thompson and his team. The Hoyas finished with a 14-18 record and entered the Tournament in ninth place for the first time since 2000.

There is a lot of questions circling around the program on what’s the plan for the future. Right now Thompson is not thinking about that.

“After a loss like that, I don’t think it’s the time to do that,” Thompson said after he was asked about his plan moving forward. “I’m worried about the group that’s in there right now, the student-athletes that are in there right now, how they’re feeling.”

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About the Author

Ryan McFadden, @RMcFadden15

Founder of Inside The Locker Room and Sports Editor for the Ionian. I write about the Washington Nationals for Federal Baseball. Iona College class of 2019 and proud DeMatha alum. Follow me on Twitter @RMcFadden15.

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