NEW YORK, FEB. 24 -- With a lot of attention being paid to the Big East's new rules regarding fighting, it was kind of easy to forget there was a basketball game tonight in Madison Square Garden.

Georgetown and St. John's didn't do that. But the Redmen had more jump late in the game, and used a 16-4 run to break free and beat the Hoyas, 69-66.

Georgetown, as Coach John Thompson has said a lot this season, won't blow out many teams in its conference. And when their main offensive cog, junior guard Charles Smith, is a little off as he was tonight (nine of 22 from the floor), the Hoyas are hard-pressed to stay with their opponents. That happened tonight when the Redmen, playing a 1-3-1 zone, still managed to keep Georgetown off the boards.

Smith, who nonetheless scored 25 points, put the Hoyas (17-8, 7-7 and down to fifth in the Big East) in front for the last time at 9:14 on the clock with a layin. Georgetown scored four points over the next 5:05, and the Redmen got the ball inside to Shelton Jones.

Jones, who wound up with 22 points to tie junior guard Michael Porter for team high, scored eight points during the run. The Hoyas were within 51-49 until Matt Brust hit two free throws, Marco Baldi a foul-line jumper and Porter a pullup three-pointer with 4:35 to play that put St. John's up by 58-49.

"We kind of lost our concentration," said Georgetown forward Perry McDonald. "We got moving on offense, we scored some easy baskets. Then, we got away from what we were doing."

The Hoyas had a chance to get within eight when Mark Tillmon was fouled after a goaltending call. But Tillmon missed the free throw, then Jones slammed off a pass from Brust. A possession later, he picked up a loose ball and drove for a layin with 3:13 left that put St. John's up by 11. Georgetown could get no closer than four, with :05 left.

"We gave ourselves problems," Smith said. "We beat ourselves. They didn't cause us any problems."

But the postgame session with Thompson focused mainly on the Big East's anti-fighting action.

"What the league did is good for everybody involved," Thompson said. "I don't have any reservations whatsoever, as long as Dave {Gavitt, the commissioner} is involved. Rules are fine. Capital punishment is something I'm for too, if people are judging it fairly. Dave, I think, is somebody who will look at it."

Thompson also said he was "hurt" by remarks made by CBS color commentator Bill Raftery after Saturday's game in Pittsburgh, in which the Hoyas and Panthers had a bench-clearing fight at the end of the game. Subsequently, Thompson said Raftery was "biased" in his remarks, and questioned the former Seton Hall coach's status as an authority.

"I don't necessarily feel the things I said about Bill Raftery," he said. "I was hurt. Not because he said it, but because somebody who I thought knew me a little bit better than that would find something. But I'm sure I was hurt."

And Thompson also pointed to the post-basketball record of his basketball players.

"Why would I want kids to graduate from school and then go out on national television and fight?" Thompson said. "What good is his degree going to do him? . . . When they leave the school, you don't know one Georgetown kid who got in trouble. Name one. Any kind of trouble. Even Michael Graham, who's supposed to be a failure. Has he robbed anyone? Has he hit anyone?"

Back to the game, after Smith canned a corner three-pointer for a 35-34 halftime lead, it seesawed the first 10 minutes of the second half, until the Redmen made their charge.