By Anthony Parelli
No player on the current St. John’s University team had ever defeated rival Georgetown until now with both basketball teams sitting squarely on the bubble to make the NCAA tournament.
The Red Storm men’s basketball team continued its recent surge by defeating the Hoyas 82-60 at Madison Square Garden Sunday night in the teams’ 101st meeting. The Johnnies have now won seven of their last eight contests and sit at 7-6 in the Big East, a drastic improvement from their 0-5 start to conference play.
“We’ve never beat Georgetown before,” junior guard D’Angelo Harrison said. “So we’re going to celebrate it, but then we have to flush it one win at a time.”
The Red Storm, which tallied just 16 first-half points in their first meeting with Georgetown, got off to a lighting fast start. They jumped out to a 15-0 lead to begin the contest. Freshman point guard Rysheed Jordan scored the first seven points for St. John’s and finished with a career 24 on the night.
Backcourt-mate Harrison matched Jordan’s point total, while Jakarr Sampson added 12 points.
“We’ve gotten heckled and hassled about not starting off well,” Harrison said. “So we fixed it. We got it together.”
The much-improved Johnnies credit their success to the team meshing as one, something they struggled with early in the year. St. John’s (17-9, 7-6) now finds itself deep in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament berth, but is not getting ahead of itself.
“Players are starting to come into their roles,” junior swingman Sir’Dominic Pointer said. “Whether you play 30 minutes or five, role players know their role and the scorers are scoring. We’re in a nice little groove right now. If we keep winning, the cards will lie where they may. It’s in our hands.”
Georgetown (15-10, 6-7) chipped away at the St. John’s lead for much of the game, bringing the score to 56-49 with 11:00 left in the contest, but a three-pointer by Harrison halted the Hoyas’ momentum and got the Red Storm back on track. The Johnnies outscored Georgetown 26-11 for the remainder of the game.
“They’re playing at a very high level right now on both ends of the floor,” Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said of the Red Storm.
Despite their recent success, St. John’s Coach Steve Lavin thinks the Johnnies are just scratching the surface of their potential and that big things are still on the horizon.
“I thought we would mesh by late January or early February,” Lavin said. “We’re flying high now, but I think the best is yet to come. I think this is just the beginning.”