Georgetown's four-game winning streak and three-season domination of St. John's came to an abrupt and crushing close Sunday, as the Red Storm finally and emphatically found their shooting touch against the Hoyas en route to a 82-60 thumping. Georgetown fell behind early and barely threatened St. John's, which dominated nearly every facet of the game. The Hoyas' loss dims their already flickering NCAA Tournament hopes.
Before Sunday, Georgetown had its way with St. John's, winning the last six meetings, each by double digits and each by stifling an inept Red Storm attack. The sixth win came just a few weeks ago. Since then, St. John's stormed through the Big East, winning six of seven entering Sunday. Still,, the Red Storm defense, rather than its still mediocre offense, had been the driving force behind that run. There was little reason to fear a suddenly potent St. John's attack.
Sunday, St. John's looked like it came to collect for all the bricks it hoisted over the past few seasons. Red Storm star D'Angelo Harrison had been particularly stake-bitten by the Georgetown defense, having missed 19 straight three-point attempts against the Hoyas. Sunday night Harrison against was the emblem of his team's offense, hitting two three-pointers, attacking the rim, and finishing with 24 points. Matching Harrison's game-high 24 points was freshman guard Rysheed Jordan, who battled foul trouble in these teams' first match-up but dissected the Hoya defense with a series of three-pointers and rim runs.
By the time that intermission arrived, Georgetown had yielded a season-high 46 first-half points and was staring up at an 18-point deficit. In the second half, the Hoyas chipped away at that lead, relying on a small lineup that has served them well of late. With Nate Lubick as the center and Jabril Trawick and Aaron Bowen as forwards, Georgetown came alive, swarming on defense to force five Red Storm turnovers and using all those loose balls to create transition offense. Trawick scored 7 of his 13 minutes during the run, and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (a team-high 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting) and Nate Lubick (6 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) each notched four. Pushing the ball in transition, Trawick fed Bowen (9 points, 2 steals) for a breakaway lay-up that clipped the Red Storm cushion to just seven with ten minutes still remaining.
But that was as close as it got for Georgetown. A St. John's dry spell ended, appropriately enough, with a Harrison three. Worse, early Hoya foul trouble meant that every bump, real or imagined, soon led to free throws, which the Red Storm dutifully converted. In short, there was little Georgetown could do to overcome 56 percent shooting by the Red Storm, let alone the 22 made free throws. The decisive blow, literally and figuratively, came with just over six minutes remaining, when a tie-up resulted in Trawick absorbing a Chris Obekpa elbow. Once the officials finally intervened, technical fouls were inexplicably assessed to both players, disqualifying Trawick and with him, Georgetown's best lineup. Thereafter, the Red Storm continued to attack the rim and get to the line, pushing the lead back to blowout levels.
The loss was dispiriting and adds increasing urgency to Georgetown next two games, a roadie at Seton Hall and a home game against Xavier. The Hoyas lost to both teams earlier in the year but must beat both to stand a realistic chance at finishing conference play .500 and qualifying for the dance. Wins by two fellow Big East bubble dwellers, Providence yesterday and St. John's over your Hoyas, only lengthens the already unfavorable math. Still, this team already has already fought back against long odds, so don't count them out yet.