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St. John’s Final: Red Storm fend off Hoyas 86-80

St. John’s secured their third straight victory at Madison Square Garden.

NCAA Basketball: Georgetown at St. John Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

St. John’s moved to 7-9 in Big East play, topping off the reeling Hoyas, 86-80.

Coming out in the first half, Georgetown looked sluggish. Despite a slim 13-10 lead early on, the Hoyas offense simply was not clicking. St. John’s wasn’t fully taking advantage of Georgetown’s struggles until Federico Mussini checked in. The Italian guard drilled two quick three-pointers, igniting a ferocious 17-0 St. John’s run.

Mussini would finish today’s contest with 16 points and 1 assist. He shot 5-6 from the field and 3-4 from deep.

Georgetown would respond using their own 17-0 run to avoid getting blown out. Despite an overall poor performance, and 16 first half turnovers, Georgetown held a 36-35 lead at the halftime break.

It did not take long for the Red Storm to heat up in the second half. They used an early 10-3 run to regain the lead.

Much of the second half from that point on was back and forth. St. John’s consistently held the lead throughout the second period, fending off any Georgetown threats.

With the game winding down, St. John’s held a decent lead. Georgetown quickly cut the lead to 3 points, then created a turnover in the backcourt, leading to a Rodney Pryor basket plus the foul.

Clinging to a 1 point lead, Shamorie Ponds dribbled the ball up the court and was fouled. He would convert on both of his free-throws, pushing St. John’s lead back to 3 points.

In the last minute, stout Red Storm defense and their ability to convert on the charity stripe reassured St. John’s victory.

When fans look back on this contest, they will remember the play of Ponds. Once again, the Brooklyn native dazzled St. John’s fans. He concluded with 24 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.

While Bashir Ahmed only shot 4-13 from the field, he also had himself a big day tallying 16 points and 5 rebounds.

St. John’s didn’t get much from their frontcourt this afternoon. Both Darien Williams and Kassoum Yakwe got into foul trouble, while Tariq Owens exited in the second half with a sprained ankle.

Although struggles from the trio listed above, Amar Alibegovic played well off the bench. He finished with 4 points, but his defense around the rim really helped the Johnnies.

Had Georgetown held onto the basketball a little more, this might be a different story. Impressively, the Johnnies created 22 turnovers. Those Georgetown turnovers only amounted to 10 fast break points, but certainly took the Hoyas out of their element.

St. John’s will round out February with a road trip to Creighton. Their trip to Nebraska on Tuesday night will be the last contest played away from Madison Square Garden, barring a postseason appearance. Georgetown rounds out their regular season against Seton Hall and Villanova.