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St. John’s Rallies to bounce Georgetown from Big East Tournament.

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NEW YORK CITY, N.Y.   The 2018 Big East tournament started off on the right foot for the St. John’s Red Storm, as they rallied to beat a scrappy Georgetown Hoyas team by the score of 88-77. The third time meeting this year, Georgetown was able to win both previous meetings.  So this would be a huge test for St. John’s. This matchup featured two coaches that once graced the Big East landscape as players, Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin.  They ironically now coach their respective alma maters and are anything but friends once the opening whistle blows.

Georgetown (15-15) came out red hot and managed to build a 48-42 lead at the half. Led by Jessie Govan’s 20 first half points, Georgetown was able to set the tone and get quality looks at the basket. Although both teams shot over 50% from the field in the first half it was the Hoyas’ 3 point shooting that gave them an early lead. The Hoyas shot 60% (9-15) from the arc in the first 12 minutes of play.   The Red Storm found themselves down by double figures with about 3 minutes left in the first half.  The Hoyas were scoring but didn’t look as if they were hungry to demolish the Johnnies.  They had a first half lead but kept their opposition within striking distance.

Opening round of the Big East Tournament put Georgetown up against St. John’s. The Red Storm came out victorious 77-66.

The St. John’s Red Storm (16-16) came out the gate a little fast in the first half. They were getting good shots and moved the ball well but couldn’t get a grasp on the lead early on.  After being down by double figures early into the game, something clicked after a Mullin timeout. With a about three minutes left in the first half the Johnnies executed on two highlight ally oops plays, one from Bashir Ahmed to Justin Simon and the other from Justin Simon to Tariq Owens.  These two plays were the catalyst for a St Johns comeback and although they were still down 48-42 at halftime, it gave the Johnnies the momentum heading into the break. Shamorie Ponds led St. John’s with 13 first half points and shouldered most of the offensive load.

The second half was all St. John’s.  The Johnnies made some defensive adjustments and came out to seize control.  They clamped down on the defensive end and frustrated Georgetown with its quickness, activity and fast hands.  They immediately went on a 10 point lead and never looked back. They managed to frustrate the Hoyas into eight 2nd half turnovers and capitalized to keep the Hoyas off balance.

We knew exactly what to expect from Shamorie Ponds, the first team All Big East selection kept the pressure on Georgetown by hitting shot after shot and controlling the offense at his leisure. He scored a team high 26 points in the win and got major help from his supporting cast.  Justin Simon contributed greatly to the win scoring 16 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Marvin Clark III also had a hand in the win scoring 13 points.  There was a balanced attack from the Red Storm that coach Mullin loves to see.  The starters did all of the damage this game, with only one bench player getting into the books.  If St. John’s wants to travel far into this Big East Tournament they will need to get more production from their bench.  Other, more experienced teams will aim to expose that flaw.

Shamorie Ponds (R) breaks out a TMC hat paying homage to the St. John’s coaching staff Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond who used the moniker when they played on the Golden State Warriors in the early 90’s. Photo ATH

Shamorie Ponds (R) breaks out a TMC hat paying homage to the St. John’s coaching staff Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond who used the moniker when they played on the Golden State Warriors in the early 90’s. Photo ATH

For Georgetown, Center Jessie Govan had a game high 28 points 11 rebounds while Marcus Derrickson contributed 20 points and 8 rebounds. It wouldn’t be enough as the Hoyas were eliminated from the tournament for the 2nd straight year.

When asked about the coaching rivalry between himself and Patrick Ewing, Mullin said “I rather coach against him than play against him… it’s easier on my body”.  This rivalry will live forever.  These programs have a rich history and no matter who is coaching or playing in the game these teams will despise each other.  St. John’s lives to see another day and faces number 1 seed Xavier in the next round.  They will need to pull out some of the magic that helped them defeat teams like Duke and Villanova this season.  Only time will tell how they match up with the rest of the conference.  They need to ride this momentum until the wheels fall off.  Let’s see if the Johnnies can ride this momentum into their next matchup.

Featured Image courtesy of ATH

Cal Griffin is a contributing writer for PureSportsNY.com.

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