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Plagued by turnovers, Georgetown falls to St. John’s, 88-69

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NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at St. John Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

By @DeHoyas

After a disappointing loss to the Butler Bulldogs at Captial One on Thursday, the Georgetown Hoyas returned to action at Madison Square Garden against the St. John’s Red Storm this afternoon. With Coach Ewing missing his 2nd consecutive game the Hoyas were once again led by Coach Louis Orr. Donald Carey missed his 3rd straight game, but the Hoyas took the floor with Dante Harris returning to the lineup after being out Thursday with an unspecified illness.

The Hoyas worked hard to stay in the game but could not find the Garden magic they had mustered last spring. The game was close early, but an 11-0 St. John’s run midway through the first half broke a 15-15 tie, and, from there, the game felt “just out of reach” for the Hoyas. Turnovers kept the Hoyas from truly making a run at this high-powered St John’s team (82.1 PPG, 12th offense in the country), and the Red Storm were able to get the win and improve to 0.500 in conference play (2-2).

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The game started with the Red Storm quickly jumping out to a 4-0 lead, before the Hoyas settled in with Aminu Mohammed put-back dunk. The scoring continued early with St. John’s guards knocking down some open 3’s, while the Hoyas stuck around with a couple of old-fashioned 3’s from Tyler Beard (3 pts, 1-5 FG) and Ryan Mutombo (6pts, 2 rebounds). The game was well-rounded for both rosters early as the starters on each side contributed to the scoring.

The Red Storm started to pull away after the under-12 timeout with an 11-0 run to take a 26-15 lead, thanks in large part to a couple of close-range buckets from the Big East’s leading scorer, Julian Champagnie. The run was simultaneously aided by some sloppy Hoya basketball, which included 3 straight turnovers and some 25-foot heaves from Rice (19pts, 5-14 3PT) and Harris (13pts, 4 assists) with the shot clock expiring.

The scoring slowed over the next several minutes, but Harris was able to drill a couple of his patented mid-range jumpers to keep the Hoyas within reach at the under-4 timeout, down 22-32. After the timeout, it was more of the same: Georgetown turnovers (12 in the first half) in the St. John’s press coupled with transition buckets for the Red Storm. Even when the Hoyas cracked the press, the Red Storm recovered and were able to force tough, off-balanced shots at the end of the shot clock. But, with under a minute left, Harris and Rice hit back-to-back 3’s to cut the deficit from 17 to 11 before the half.

The 2nd half began with Champagnie and Aminu trading baskets before the St. John’s full-court pressure started to force more turnovers, highlighted by a Champagnie “and-1” lay-in to stretch the Red Storm lead to 16. Champagnie was the game’s leading scorer, finishing with 25pts and 6 rebounds. As the 2nd half played out, Georgetown continued to turn the ball over, frustratingly on inbounds plays and the press break, while the Red Storm made Georgetown pay, holding a 20 point lead midway through the 2nd half. Just when the game felt like it was getting out of control, the Hoyas refused to quit (and finally stopped turning it over), and sparked a 15-3 run lead by Dante Harris (despite discomfort in his leg) and Kaiden Rice, who made a couple of 3’s as well as a couple of acrobatic lay-ups to cut the lead to 8 at the under-8 timeout. There was hope for more magic in the Garden for Georgetown.

But, in the TV timeout, St. John’s head coach, Mike Anderson, asked his team for “3 good minutes” and that is exactly what he got. The Hoyas turned the ball over 3 consecutive times under Red Storm pressure giving up a 7-2 run and falling behind by 13. With only 4 minutes left, the game felt “just out of reach” for the Hoyas, and the Red Storm closed out Georgetown 88-69.

The good news: (1) Dante likes Madison Square Garden, and he carried his MVP-style play from last year’s Big East Tournament into today. (2) Igoehfe (6pts, 8 rebounds) is back from injury and quietly had himself a nice game with some strong offensive rebounds and putbacks. (3) Aminu (13pts, 12 rebounds) played his best conference game thus far and progress is promising.

The bad news: (1) Turnovers - it is hard to win basketball games (much less in the Big East) with 21(!!) turnovers. (2) Dante was walking gingerly and in apparent discomfort from a leg injury - hope he feels better soon.

Next up, the Hoyas (hopefully with Coach Ewing and Donald Carey back) head to Rhode Island to take on #23 Providence on Thursday at 5:00pm in search of their first conference win.