The Georgetown Hoyas gave it their all but could not hold on to defeat the St. John’s Red Storm in the first round of the abruptly halted 2020 BIG EAST Tournament. The 62-75 loss, in typical disappointing fashion, has split the GU fan-base on their feelings about Ewing and the state of the Georgetown program. For now.
As cooler heads prevail—and no new sporting events occur ever again—the Hoya-faithful will undoubtedly take some time this March for serious, sober introspection and analysis of the program and its leadership. For now, we can look at this final chapter of a tumultuous season for what it is: another tough break for a tired, heart-driven team.
The evolution of defending against Georgetown this season accelerated in this 7-game losing streak with a recipe that included a dash of physicality and a sprinkle of exhaustion. Starting with Providence (and the referees forgetting many mandates from early in the season), the Hoyas were confronted with more than a few extra reach-ins, shoves, holds, and hip-checks that went uncalled. Off-ball defenders held Hoyas cutting across the middle. Low-post pushers forced GU bigs out further when they weren’t climbing their backs. Offensive boards were harder to come by as opponents’ rebounders cleared out guys in better position. Ball-handlers grew in confidence using their off-hand to make space from Mosely and Allen. Georgetown may have been able to be more physical in return if they had the depth to tolerate foul calls—or if they had more stamina. There are things that even bringing back alumni for practice just won’t help you prepare for.
St. John’s was no different in employing their pressure and trapping defense. With nothing left to lose, the Johnnies were prepared to reach, hold, push, and slap their way back in the game. Coach Mike Anderson kept a healthy rotation of fresh legs as even the Red Storm’s “token pressure” in the second half made Terrell Allen and Jagan Mosely waste time and energy bringing the ball up. St. John’s attacked the hoop with their off-ball hand ready to push open a bit more space.
For better or worse, it was a return to the old BIG EAST mentality. They slowly wore Georgetown down and then stepped on the gas. The Hoyas coughed it up 21 times, including 6 apiece by the honorable-but-exhausted Mosely and Allen, giving SJU a whopping 16 steals.
If an opponent is going to be that physical in a comeback effort, winners get to the free-throw line. The Hoyas only shot 8 free throws, with Terrell Allen going 1-2 and Omer Yurtseven shooting 4-6. Georgetown averages about 19 free-throw attempts in conference play this year and was first in free-throw percentage (78.3% in conference; 14th in the nation with 77.1%). Getting to the charity stripe is how you stop the bleeding and turn momentum back in your favor. St. John’s was 15-19 from the line.
Qudus Wahab (4-4 FGs in 19 minutes) had a solid game (and a pretty good back-half of the season) but he is still a liability on the charity stripe (63% this season; 0-0). When Ewing says, “It was winning time,” he probably meant that he wanted his experienced guys and best free-throw shooters in the game. Wahab is not quite there yet, while Yurtseven (75% this season) is closer. Yurtseven drew some fouls down the stretch (despite two big turnovers). Wahab (1 foul, 2 TOs) should have had a longer run in the second-half, at least to take some pressure off of Yurtseven’s problematic ankle, but Ewing was likely right about “winning time” if he indeed meant drawing and making free-throws. Still, the fatigued players may not have had a quick enough step in them to get those calls down the stretch.
This loss stung a lot, but that 0-23 run to close was more of a byproduct of a season long exhaustion than any missed steps in gameplan. Seeing how well Georgetown performed in the first half and in the second when they successfully beat the press for open threes and layups was a thing of beauty, but it was all meant to wear the Hoyas down when it counted most.
Still, you have to wonder how much having a first at-large resume in this coronavirus-canceled tournament year would have hurt our fellow fans.
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Terrell Allen led the Hoyas with 22 points, but only three came in the second half. Jamorko Pickett added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Georgetown, which missed its final 10 shots and turned the ball over four times in the final 6:31.
”It still doesn’t feel real, to be honest with you,” Georgetown senior guard Jagan Mosely said. “After their, I guess, 20 — 20-0 run, it kind of still hasn’t hit me that the game ended like that. You never want to go out on a loss. Obviously, 95 to 99% of the teams in college end their careers in losses. But you never want to end it like that.”
This marked the third time in the last four years the teams have met at Madison Square Garden in the opening round of the conference tournament, and St. John’s has won all three games.
Georgetown seemed to be cruising to its third straight win over St. John’s this season when things fell apart late with a 62-52 lead. Figueroa started the decisive run with 3-pointer, Nick Rutherford a layup and then Earlington took over, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, a layup and two free throws to give St. John’s a 67-62 lead.
If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.— Thompson’s Towel (@ThompsonsTowel) March 12, 2020
In crunch time, it was St. John’s who rose to the occasion, ending the game on a 23-0 run to send Georgetown packing.https://t.co/QMONXGXuHc
“In the second half, we did a much better job of making them feel our pressure defense,” St. John’s Coach Mike Anderson said. “Fatigue was a factor in this game. They wore down” ...
“They gave it their blood, sweat and tears,” Ewing said...
With a decimated roster, the Hoyas didn’t have the legs to pull out a handful of close losses as the season wore on and failed to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2015. But the players who remained lent Georgetown something else: They gave fans a glimpse of a fighting spirit that wasn’t quite visible in Ewing’s previous seasons...
Next year, Blair and Pickett may be the Hoyas’ lone veterans on court; Ewing said he wasn’t sure whether Yurtseven, who is a senior but has a year of college eligibility remaining, would be back with the Hoyas.
The shots weren’t falling, the Hoyas couldn’t seem to miss and the Johnnies trailed by as many as 15 in the second half. All signs pointed towards an early BIG EAST Tournament exit for St. John’s.
Somebody forgot to tell Marcellus Earlington. The sophomore forward scored 10 consecutive points on a 23-0 St. John’s run to end the game... Earlington registered the second double-double of his St. John’s career, finishing the contest with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He scored 17 of his 19 points after halftime, going 6-of-9 from the floor and a perfect 3-for-3 from three in the latter stanza.
The Red Storm’s 15-point comeback marked the largest for St. John’s in the 41-year history of the BIG EAST Tournament. The Johnnies sank six of their final eight field goal attempts during the game-ending run.
St. John's defeated Georgetown in their first game of the Big East Tournament, which plans to move ahead without having fans at arenas due to coronavirus https://t.co/S7C8kHTMvG pic.twitter.com/32vqY21WEo— SNY (@SNYtv) March 12, 2020
The run, which ended the game, ballooned up to 23-0 in large part thanks to Earlington’s second half resurgence. Earlington finished the half with 17 points on 6 of 9 from the floor and 3 of 3 from deep to go along with 6 second half boards. The Hoyas scored their last points with 6:31 left in the game.
After shooting an abysmal 15% from deep in the first half, the Red Storm were able to shoot a much better 46% from deep after the break with Earlington and LJ Figueroa making all of the team’s second half threes.
Georgetown and St. John’s went back and forth early but five-straight points from the Blue & Gray behind a Jagan Mosely layup and an Allen triple pushed the Hoyas ahead 14-12 with 13:19 on the clock.
An 11-2 run, sparked by Pickett, was capped by a pair of buckets from Allen putting the Hoyas ahead 28-26 with 5:57 to play.
After an SJU bucket knotted the game at 28, the Hoyas went on a tear with eight unanswered as Pickett and Allen drained back-to-back treys followed by a Mosely layup to force the SJU timeout with 3:57 in the first half.
GU went into the break with the 42-33 advantage.
Coming out of the locker room, Georgetown was on fire as Wahab opened the frame with a dunk. The lead ballooned to 15 (48-33) on a Blair triple and an Allen free throw.
A 10-0 run from St. John’s was halted when Omer Yurtseven sunk a pair of free throws. On GU’s next possession, Yurtseven’s alleyoop dunk off the Allen assist swung the momentum back to the Blue & Gray with the lead building back up to double digits (58-47) following a Yurtseven bucket.
Allen’s driving layup pushed the lead back to double digits (62-52) before the Johnnies went on a run to secure the 75-62 victory.
St. John’s (17-15) was sloppy and shaky offensively most of the evening. It trailed by 15 points early in the second half, missed 15 of its first 17 3-point attempts and was down 10 with 6:31 left. Suddenly a switch was flipped, the Red Storm pulling off their biggest comeback in the 41-year history of the Big East Tournament. Georgetown didn’t score again. St. John’s managed points in 10 of its last 11 possessions. Earlington got the Red Storm over the hump after pulling them even, hitting a 3-pointer with 3:10 left to give them the lead. On the ensuing possession, the sophomore came up with a steal and hit two free throws. LJ Figueroa followed with a 3-pointer, pushing the lead to eight and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
The Johnnies’ defense was what Anderson couldn’t stop talking about. It swarmed over that final 6:31, creating four turnovers and poor shots deep into the shot clock. It nullified Georgetown’s significant size advantage. The Hoyas (15-17) missed their final 11 shots and looked gassed down the stretch. St. John’s, meanwhile, only got stronger.
Statement from Commissioner Val Ackerman on the BIG EAST Tournament https://t.co/J3Ol23lPTd— Casual Hoya (@CasualHoya) March 12, 2020
Feeling is that most travel events and more importantly, live periods in April run by various shoe companies, may be postponed, just as well. Still much to play out but dominoes due to the threat of virus the could impact roster makeups for years to come https://t.co/OtLkktinbF— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) March 12, 2020