On Lou Carnesecca’s 94th birthday, St. John’s won at Georgetown for the first time since January 2003.
This time, Shamorie Ponds carried the day with a 37 point performance, leading five players in double figures, to bring the Red Storm to 2-1 in the Big East and 14-1 overall.
For the first ten minutes, it seemed like the ghosts of the nation’s capital were alive, altering St. John’s shots and disrupting the rhythm they displayed in this week’s win against Marquette. The Johnnies committed turnovers on their first two offensive possessions, missed open shots, and generally looked hard-pressed to find a solution to figure out the Hoyas.
The Red Storm were down as many as 11 points in that half at one point, after Jahvon Blair was fouled on a three-point shot.
But the team maintained composure.
The Johnnies rode efforts from Shamorie Ponds, who had 12 in the second ten minutes of the first half, to surge back into the fray. Ponds was helped by LJ Figueroa’s long defensive arms, along with contributions by Bryan Trimble Jr., Sedee Keita, and Greg Williams Jr., who was tasked with slowing Georgetown’s James Akinjo.
The Johnnies forced five consecutive misses late on the way to taking the lead. It wasn’t pretty but the Red Storm looked well on their way to pulling off a second-straight win.
Georgetown, blessed with size and execution, came back.
Riding a strong effort moving the ball, the Hoyas led by as many as 11 in a game that ultimately had 11 ties and 11 lead changes. Patrick Ewing’s Hoyas maintained control, slowing the pace and working the ball through the paint, through the powerful Jessie Govan and Josh LeBlanc.
Shamorie Ponds fought back, often driving on two Georgetown defenders at a time. But after he fouled James Akinjo, the freshman Hoya point guard’s free throws gave Georgetown a lead they seemed like they would never relinquish.
With the Georgetown Hoyas up four, Ponds drew a foul on a drive and went to the line, making two.
On the subsequent Georgetown inbound, on a play where the Hoyas just had to get the ball in, a trap (partly by LJ Figueroa) resulted in a steal. Figueroa was fouled, and made two free throws to tie the game.
An off-balance Hoya shot missed — and the Red Storm took advantage of a second chance and won in overtime.
But the overtime was thrilling and filled with late-game execution terrors.
- In overtime, with Mustapha Heron fouled out at the end of regulation, the Johnnies started with Justin Simon stealing the ball and lobbing to Figueroa. Figueroa got Simon his own alley-oop. Marvin Clark II nailed a left-corner three.
- But Clark also fouled Jessie Govan on a corner three (shades of that foul on Marcus Derrickson last season), and the Johnnies committed a shot-clock violation, after struggling to break the Hoyas’ pressure to slow the Red Storm down.
- But after a miss, Shamorie Ponds snatched a pass out of the air and set up a Figueroa to Simon alley-oop. The game should have been pretty much sealed, up six, after Govan barely grazed the nylon on a three, but the ball came back into play, and he was fouled by Sedee Keita on a three.
- St. John’s was up four, and Justin Simon was fouled. He missed two free throws, and the Hoyas came down, missed a pair of threes but rebounded the ball. Greg Malinowski was fouled by Simon (who fouled out), and made two.
- Ponds only made one of two free throws. St. John’s was up 97-94, with the Hoyas clinging to a shot at a win or a second overtime. Greg Williams was back on the court, defending the Hoyas James Akinjo. Akinjo and Blair missed three pointers, and the Johnnies, somehow, some way, left Washington DC with a win.
Next for St. John’s is a tilt against Villanova at the on-campus Finneran Pavilion on Tuesday. They will remain on the road.
Shamorie Ponds: 37 points (11/21 fg, 6/10 3pt, 9/12 ft), 5 assists, 3 steals
Justin Simon: 14 points (7/11 fg, 0/3 ft), 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals
LJ Figueroa: 11 points (4/7 fg, 0/2 3pt, 3/4 ft), 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals
Jessie Govan: 25 points (9/22 fg, 1/6 3pt, 6/8 ft), 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block
James Akinjo: 17 points (2/10 fg, 2/5 3pt, 11/12 ft), 5 assists