Freefalling: Men’s basketball falls to St. John’s, solidifies ninth place standing in Big East

February 25, 2017

Photo: Tyler Pearre/The Georgetown Voice

Just when you thought the Georgetown basketball team was at its nadir, the Hoyas outdid themselves once more.

Adding more misery to an already disappointing season, Georgetown (14-15, 5-11 Big East) fell to the St. John’s Red Storm (13-16, 7-9 Big East), 86-80, Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. Graduate senior guard Rodney Pryor scored 22 points to lead the Hoyas, who have now lost at least three straight games on two separate occasions in Big East play. Junior guard L.J. Peak added 20 points for Georgetown, and sophomore center Jessie Govan chipped in with 13. The Red Storm were led by a 24-point outing from freshman guard Shamorie Ponds, who scored 12 against the Hoyas in the two teams’ first matchup on Jan. 9. With his performance today, Ponds became just the third freshman in program history to tally 500 points in a season.

The loss further solidifies Georgetown’s position at ninth place in the Big East standings, as the Hoyas entered Saturday’s matchup a game back of the Red Storm. Georgetown is now in danger of the finishing with a losing record in back-to-back seasons, a feat last accomplished by the program in 1971-72 and 1972-73. The latter was the team’s first season under then-Head Coach John Thompson, Jr., father of current Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III.

The Hoyas were in a nip-and-tuck affair from the beginning of this one, as any aspirations of a repeat of January’s 83-55 romp over the Red Storm were quickly erased. The Red Storm went on a 17-1 run midway through the first half to open up a 27-13 lead, but the Blue and Gray would counter accordingly with their own spurt to a 36-35 lead into the halftime locker-room. Peak recorded 13 points on 4-6 shooting from the field in the half, while Pryor notched 11. As a team, Georgetown shot an efficient 58 percent from the field and 80 percent from deep, but were plagued by 16 turnovers which led to 16 points for the Johnnies.

The halftime advantage was short-lived, however, as St. John’s stormed out of the break to take a 48-41 lead just after the first media timeout. The Hoyas would never lead again after that point, cutting the lead down to one on three separate occasions, with the last one occurring off of a Pryor and-one to make it a 78-77 game with 1:20 remaining in the contest. Georgetown could not keep the Red Storm off the line during the ensuing possession as they fouled Ponds, who knocked down his only two attempts of the game from the charity stripe. From there, the Johnnies continued hitting their free throws and the Hoyas missed their three-point attempts until time ran out.

Photo: Alex Lewontin/The Georgetown Voice

For the game, Georgetown shot 53 percent from the field and made 7-13 threes, but turned the ball over 22 times compared to just nine Red Storm turnovers. Sophomore forward Kaleb Johnson made his first start of the season in place of fellow sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson. Johnson recorded a season-high 11 points on 4-4 shooting in the contest. He became the tenth different Hoya to start a game this season. Senior center Bradley Hayes, who has been plagued by injury throughout the year, played just two minutes.

The Hoyas will have three days to correct their problems taking care of the ball before traveling to Seton Hall for a 6:30 pm tip on Tuesday. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

Santul Nerkar
Santul is the Voice's former executive culture editor and Halftime Sports editor. Follow him on Twitter @SantulN to become one of his rare few followers.

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