NEW YORK — It was Chris Mullin vs. Patrick Ewing all over again in Big East action on Wednesday night. The only difference is, this time it is as head coaches. Mullin, who attended St. John’s and Ewing, who went to Georgetown, kicked off the Big East Tournament with a head-to-head match-up.
St. John’s Dominant Second Half Leads To Victory Over Georgetown
St. John’s avenged two regular-season losses to Georgetown, defeating them 88-77. The Red Storm will take on Xavier in the second round Thursday at noon. Mullin picked up his first coaching victory against Ewing.
“It’s just like playing against him except we’re friends now. We weren’t friends when we played,” Mullin said. “I’d much rather coach against him than play against him. It’s a lot easier on my body.”
Jessie Govan scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Georgetown but it was not enough to beat St. John’s.
“It’s very disappointing,” Ewing said. “It’s hard to beat a good, quality team three times. Especially one that is so well coached.”
The first half saw a lot of scoring. The Hoyas took a 48-42 lead into the locker room along with some momentum. Govan and Marcus Derrickson led the way for Georgetown. Govan had 20 points and five rebounds while Derrickson contributed 12 points.
The Hoyas hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions to take a 30-20 lead midway through the half. The Red Storm would respond with a 12-1 run, in which they held Georgetown scoreless for over three minutes, to take a 32-31 lead. But Georgetown then went on a 9-0 run of their own to regain control. Tariq Owens would hit a buzzer beater for St. John’s going into halftime.
Ponds played like a First-Team All-Big East member. He was virtually unstoppable as he scored 11 of the first 13 points for his team and went into halftime with 13 total on 6-9 shooting. Georgetown finished the half with 13 assists on 16 field goals.
“We’ve shown throughout the season that we can compete with anyone in the country,” Ponds said. “We came into this Big East tournament with the mindset of one game at a time.”
The difference in the first half was the three-point shooting. The Hoyas shot 9-15 from deep while St. John’s was only 3-12.
St. John’s dominated the final 20 minutes of this game. They outscored Georgetown by 17 in the second half. The Hoyas got into foul trouble early. They put St. John’s in the bonus with 9:49 left in the game.
St. John’s would take advantage of this and shoot 21-26 from the line. The story of the second half was Simon. He got St. John’s rolling when he converted two three-point plays. This is when the Red Storm took over momentum and got this crowd into it.
“That definitely gave us a little spark when we pulled that off,” Simon said. “Like coach said though, we just got more aggressive in the second half on defense and that carried us.”
Govan was held in check in the second half only scoring eight points. Ponds controlled the game for the Red Storm with his ability to make big shots and not turn the ball over. He had 13 in the second half. St. John’s finished with five players in double figures. Ponds, Simon, Owens with 13 points, Marvin Clark II with 16 and Bashir Ahmed contributed 10.
“Most of our sets have multiple options,” Mullin said. “It’s up to Shamorie and Justin to make those reads and they’ve done a great job all year and they did an exceptional job in the second half tonight.”