With all the cries about the Big East not being the same, Georgetown (11-4, 1-1) and St John’s (14-1, 2-1) put on a great show for today’s Big East.
In a game full of runs, St. John’s made the most important one in the last minute, forcing overtime. In the extra period, the Red Storm would hang on for a 97-94 win.
In a Big East that is more open than past years, home conference losses are even more punitive. This one will stick with Coach Patrick Ewing for a while. With 53 seconds left in the game, Georgetown was up by 5 but, like the Syracuse game, they couldn’t hold it. St John’s would get a layup from Mustapha Heron to cut the lead to three.
The next sequence could’ve been the biggest of the game. Up three with 18 seconds left, Jamorko Pickett drove to the basket and got fouled. Instead of laying it up, he tried to dunk the ball and missed. He made only one of two free throws. With everyone in the building knowing that Shamorie Ponds would get the ball, Georgetown willingly let him have it. Jagan Mosely would foul Ponds allowing the Red Storm to get two points without the clock running.
The Hoyas would turn the ball over in the back court, in part, because St. John’s wouldn’t allow James Akinjo to get the ball. Even though, Georgetown had two timeouts left, they panicked and gave the ball back to the Red Storm. LJ Figueroa would get fouled and make both free throws, tying the game with 11 seconds left. St. John’s head coach, Chris Mullin, ensured that Georgetown’s best ball handler and, best free throw shooter, wasn’t going to beat him.
Ponds in a handful. There’s no doubt about it but there didn’t seem to be a lot of imagination in how they attacked him defensively. The only adjustment happened when Mullin would use Ponds in post-ups against Akinjo. After Ponds made a couple of shots, Ewing started bringing a double team. Other than that, not much was done to discourage Ponds, who finished with an efficient 37 points.
In overtime, St John’s would race out to an eight point lead but the Hoyas fought back. A four point play by Jessie Govan cut the Red Storm lead down to four. The Hoyas would cut the lead to three and had the ball with 23 seconds left. In theory, they could get a quick two, foul anyone but Ponds and extend the game out. But, they didn’t do that. They held the ball in an obvious attempt to go for three. “We were looking for a 3,” said Coach Patrick Ewing. It was an odd decision considering Akinjo’s success getting into the lane. St. John’s probably would have played it soft because there’s no way they wanted to commit a foul. Extending the game would have been just as good, if not a better move than planning for a three.
Even with that said, the Hoyas had their chances. Akinjo missed a three but the Hoyas got the rebound. Jahvon Blair took a three at the buzzer that didn’t fall and Georgetown had given away a winnable home conference game. “We have to learn how to close out games,” said Ewing.
What is troubling is who made the mistakes at the end. Mosely is a senior. In that situation, he has to know not to foul. Jahvon Blair’s turnover was as collective effort of players not keeping their cool and not playing the situation correctly. A turnover there with timeouts left borders on inexcusable.
Coach is right. They need to learn how to close out games. Both in the huddle and on the court.