With an actual storm raging outside, the eighth-seeded Georgetown men’s basketball team (15-15, 5-14 Big East) fell to the ninth-seeded St. John’s Red Storm (16-16, 5-14 Big East) 88-77 at Madison Square Garden in the first round of the Big East Tournament.
Junior center Jessie Govan, who averaged a double-double during the regular season, led the Hoyas with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Junior forward Marcus Derrickson, who returned from an ankle injury, added 20 points and eight rebounds.
For St. John’s, sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds scored 26 points, while fellow sophomore guard Justin Simon filled the stat sheet with 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and four steals.
The Hoyas won both matchups between the teams during the regular season, including a 93-89, double overtime victory at home on January 20.
“It’s hard to beat a good, quality team like St. John’s three straight times,” Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing said.
The beginning of the game was almost entirely fueled by each team’s stars. Govan and Derrickson scored or assisted on 22 of Georgetown’s first 24 points, while Ponds scored or assisted on 16 of St. John’s first 20. But while the Red Storm’s double teams on the Hoya big men were largely ineffective, the Georgetown defense began to focus on shutting down Ponds, and the all-Big East first team player went without a point or assist for the final 9:22 of the first half.
Between stopping Ponds and going 9-15 from beyond the arc, the Hoyas led by six at halftime, 48-42.
“I thought in the first half they got too many open looks, too many walk-in threes,” St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin said. “We were fortunate to be only down six at halftime.”
The Red Storm came out strong in the second half, however, and the Hoyas went cold. Ponds hit two free throws with 15:55 remaining, his first points in almost 15 minutes of game time, to retake the lead for St. John’s. Meanwhile, shots stopped falling for Georgetown, which went 3-17 from three and 8-31 overall in the second half.
“They flipped a switch at halftime and did a much better job,” Mullin said of his team.
Outside of Govan and Derrickson, the Hoyas’ offense struggled throughout the game. Freshman guards Jamorko Pickett and Jahvon Blair, both selected to the Big East all-freshman team, went a combined 0-12 from the floor.
“Jessie and Marcus, based on their stat sheet, they brought their A game,” Ewing said. “But no one else really stepped up.”
If Georgetown does not play in an invitational postseason tournament, they will have have gone three straight seasons without a winning record, the longest such stretch for the team since 1970-74. Ewing said that the team would play in the NIT if invited – the selection date for the tournament is March 11.
If this is the last game of the season for the Hoyas, the focus for the team turns to improving for next year.
“It’s going to be a really big offseason for all of us trying to come back and really take the Big East by storm,” Govan said.
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