Neither team is fighting for a national championship, but the intensity of rivalry was evident on the floor of the refurbished Garden in the new Big East as St. John’s took out the Georgetown Hoyas, 74-73 in the first round of the Big East Tournament.
St. John’s improves to 14-18, and takes on the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats tomorrow morning at 12:00.
But to the This game almost became what we would have called hard fought in the 80s. Or 70s, when legitimate fights happened on the court as they do in hockey.
Here, enjoy the moment of the game:
This is how the Big East Tournament used to be. pic.twitter.com/WA6SqBk4eV— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 9, 2017
But there was a game itself, one that reflected the flaws and strengths of both teams.
Georgetown’s L.J. Peak scored first. And didn’t score for the rest of the half. But Marcus Derrickson and Rodney Pryor led the Hoyas on a 13-1 run.
St. John’s didn’t go on a single run, but they did chip, chip, chip away at the deficit, trading ties until a 6-0 run to close out the half behind Ahmed and Ponds, who finished the half with 10 apiece.
The second half saw a stretch of lazy Georgetown play - not getting back on defense, taking hasty shots, and giving up a 6-0 run to St. john’s on fast break layups.
St. John’s started working the ball inside, with LoVett - who had been saddled with three fouls for much of the first half - breaking down the defense and finding Darien Williams and Owens on plays.
But on the other side, L.J. Peak was heating up, scoring 12 of the Hoya’s points in a row.
(And then there was the near brawl, where Mullin earned a technical foul.)
But down the stretch, St. John’s went cold. Up six points after a Darien Williams jump shot off of a LoVett assist, the Johnnies did not score for the last three minutes of the game. The Hoyas used their size to get within one, but in the end, could not make a last-second shot at the rim.
Next up: Villanova.
Georgetown was led by 24 from Peak (22 in the second half); Rodney Pryor added 17 and Marcus Derrickson added 11.
St. John’s got 17 from Shamorie Ponds and 14 from Bashir Ahmed. Malik Ellison chipped in 11 and was at times one of the most influential players on the floor, adding eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. Darien Williams added 10.