NEW YORK — The Georgetown men’s basketball team had spent the first two weeks of this month methodically climbing the Big East standings to get back to .500 and into the NCAA tournament picture, which appeared at best a long shot following a midseason losing streak.
It took less than six minutes for the Hoyas to backslide against St. John’s in an 82-60 loss Sunday night in front of 10,340 at Madison Square Garden. That’s all the time the Red Storm required to score the first 15 points and force Georgetown to chase unsuccessfully the rest of the way en route to having a four-game winning streak abruptly end.
In losing to St. John’s for the first time in seven games, the Hoyas (15-10, 6-7 Big East) did not score until 13 minutes 47 seconds remained in the first half, and their first field goal came a little less than a minute later. Georgetown collected itself soon enough to prevent a complete runaway and came within eight with just less than seven minutes left on D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s three-pointer.
Moments later, though, the Hoyas lost their top defender and most energetic reserve when Jabril Trawick picked up his fifth foul via a technical after exchanging words with Sir’Dominic Pointer. St. John’s center Chris Obekpa also was assessed a technical, but it was the Hoyas who were unable to regroup in matching their most lopsided loss this season.
“You can’t spot a team that good that’s playing as well as it’s playing that many points,” Hoyas Coach John Thompson III said. “We chipped away, we chipped away and we got to a workable number at some point in the second half, and at that point we made some bad decisions, which allowed them to pull it back out, but you’ve got to give credit to them. They’re playing at a high level right now.”
Sophomore guard Smith-Rivera led Georgetown with 15 points, and Trawick added 13 before going to the bench for good with 6:10 to play. Once there, the junior guard had his left eye examined after he banged it diving for a loose ball. He kept a towel over it the remainder of the game.
Junior guard D’Angelo Harrison and freshman guard Rysheed Jordan each scored a game-high 24 points for the Red Storm, which won for the fifth straight time and for the eighth time in nine games. St. John’s also avenged its most lopsided loss this season when it fell to Georgetown, 77-60, on Jan. 4 at Verizon Center.
Georgetown was on its heels immediately after tip-off when Jordan scored the first seven points. Sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson sank a jumper, and Harrison’s three-pointer made it an even dozen and got the partisan crowd even more involved.
“First, I thought that the way we came out, like Coach said, was unacceptable,” said Trawick, who indicated his eye would be fine. “We spotted them a lot of easy baskets in the first half. Doing that against a team like this, with how they’re playing, it’s hard to win games like that.”
After a foul shot and another layup, the onslaught finally ended for the Hoyas, whose first points came via a pair of free throws from Trawick. Soon after, Georgetown followed with a three-pointer from Markel Starks that drew the Hoyas within 12 points.
Georgetown twice clawed within 10 points before intermission, the first time on backup forward Aaron Bowen’s floater in the lane and the next when Smith-Rivera drove into the teeth of the defense before getting a short jumper to rattle around and through the rim.
But St. John’s (17-9, 7-6) closed with six consecutive points, capped by Pointer’s offensive rebound and basket that made it 46-28 heading into the locker room amid roars of approval from the St. John’s faithful adorned in a sea of red.
The Red Storm’s lead swelled to 20 with 17:25 left before several Georgetown spurts made portions of the second half briefly competitive. But after Georgetown got within 65-57 with 6:56 to play, the deficit doubled less than four minutes later.
“We got it together, and like I said, we played a great game today,” Harrison said. “Georgetown made a run, but we needed this one. It was a good team win.”