Georgetown won its first Big East game in five tries Monday night, running away from St. John’s after the half to turn a close game into a laugher. The Hoyas buckled down defensively and the Red Storm couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean, shooting just 28 percent for the game and tallying 18 points after intermission.
The reversal that followed intermission came as a bit of a surprise considering the half that preceded it. Despite choppy play from the visitors, Georgetown led by just a possession with only 3 minutes before the break. The Hoyas played less than inspiring defense from the tip, given that they entered the game having failed to win their first four conference games. An ineffectual press and otherwise low-energy defense yielded 12 Red Storm points on the visitors’ first 7 possessions. Rather than looking to avenge those previous conference defeats, Georgetown quickly fell behind to one of the worst teams in the league.
But that was about the last of the bad news for the Hoyas Monday night. Georgetown hen held St. John’s scoreless for nine consecutive possessions, a preview of things to come after the half. Eight straight points put the Hoyas ahead for good. All of those came in the paint or at the line, as the Hoyas attacked and kept attacking.
Still, Georgetown didn’t exactly pull away, as its lead stood at just a possession with under three minutes to play in the first half. A pair of Marcus Derrickson made three-pointers helped to put Georgetown up 7, setting the stage for a big second-half run.
After the break, St. John’s scored just two points over ten-plus minutes, a despicable stretch of basketball that would have made even Steve Lavin and D’Angelo Harrison blush. The Red Storm shot just 20 percent for the second half and didn’t assist on any of the handful of field goals they actually made. Nor did St. John’s get any second chances, gathering just 6 offensive rebounds on 44 chances. The Red Storm’s offense devolved into an I’m-gonna-get-mine level of shot selection. You, three guys from Yates, and I could have scored as well.
For the Hoyas, this was good news. All those Red Storm misses paved the way for a 16-0 Georgetown run that turned a single-digit Georgetown lead into a blowout. The Hoyas spread the ball, as six different Hoyas scored during the decisive push. In addition to Peak, freshman guard Jagan Mosely had his second straight strong game, notching 13 points on a series of strong drives and finishes around the rim. Derrickson also continued his recent outburst, contributing 11 points for his sixth straight double-figure outing, moving him into a tie with Jessie Govan for third in scoring on the team. And after a pair of lethargic outings, Rodney Pryor returned to his scoring ways (13 points) while also making the most of his energy (8 rebounds, 3 steals).
But most of the good news came on the defensive end. Granted, St. John’s played some truly deplorable basketball for much of Monday’s game. But the Red Storm couldn’t get to a ghastly 55 points on 80 possessions by themselves. Mosely, Peak, Pryor, Jonathan Mulmore, and Kaleb Johnson all played active, energetic defense, forcing 16 turnovers while also contesting shots all over the court. Eight different Hoyas gathered at least three different defensive rebounds, providing the type of gang rebounding that Georgetown will need to overcome its shortcomings on the glass to date.
What this all means remains to be seen. Georgetown hosts Connecticut on Saturday, an old rival that, like the Red Storm and the Hoyas, is in the middle of a crappy season lined in silver by a victory over Syracuse. The Hoyas should beat the Huskies, and, beyond that, Providence on its return date to the District next Monday. Whether they’ll do so, who knows. Tonight was one step in the right direction.