Hoyas fail to weather the Red Storm’s hot shooting

In a game filled with NCAA Tournament ramifications for both teams, St. John’s (17-9, 7-6 Big East) came out firing from the start, riding a 15-0 game-opening run and hot shooting to a 82-60 wire-to-wire victory over Georgetown (15-10, 6-7 Big East). The Red Storm exacted revenge for their earlier loss at the hands of the Hoyas, who defeated them in similar blowout fashion 77-60 at Verizon Center Jan. 4.

“We all know that today wasn’t how we want to play,” junior guard Jabril Trawick said. “That was unacceptable and we just got to come out and play hard every minute of the game. We can’t have any lapses like we did tonight.”

The Hoyas failed to contain the St. John’s backcourt duo of junior guard D’Angelo Harrison and freshman guard Rysheed Jordan, as each erupted for a game-high 24 points, with two-headed tandem shooting a combined 15-of-26 from the field. Harrison. In their prior matchup against the Hoyas, the two guards only managed a combined 6 points, with Harrison alone shooting an anemic 1-of-12 from the field.

“We did a good job playing as a group. We were hungry for this win,” Harrison said. “We came out with a lot of energy.”

Sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way for the Hoyas with 15 points. Trawick and senior guard Markel Starks, who played the whole game, scored 13 apiece. Trawick, junior forward Mikael Hopkins, senior center Moses Ayegba, and senior forward Aaron Bowen all struggled to stay out of foul trouble, which crippled the Hoyas for most of the game.

“We have a very small margin of error offensively, as well as defensively,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. “We had a couple of breakdowns which allows good teams to pull away.”

The Red Storm’s offense wreaked havoc on the Hoyas’ defense right from the opening tip, as they jumped out to a 46-28 halftime lead. During the first half, the Red Storm converted 17-of-25 field goal attempts, an astonishing 68 percent from the field. Especially in the first half, Georgetown did not match St. John’s’ intensity.

“We just had to start playing. We weren’t playing” Thompson said in regards to his team’s first-half effort. “You can’t stop a team that good that’s playing as well as they’re playing.”

After their dismal first half, Georgetown chipped the St. John’s lead to 56-47 with 10:49 as they started the second half on a 21-8 run. But with the Hoyas down 67-57 with 6:10 remaining, a loose-ball skirmish between Trawick and Obekpa resulted in a double-technical foul and Trawick’s subsequent disqualification. The Red Storm took advantage and closed the game out on a 15-3 run, as the Hoyas to make a field goal over the game’s final 6:56. Thompson acknowledged that Trawick’s absence marked a turning point in the game.

“When he’s not on the court, we’re not the same team,” Thompson said. “His energy and his toughness is contagious. Not having him out there (for the remainder of the game) probably gave [St. John’s] courage as much as it sapped us.”

Trawick knows that he and his teammates will have to perform better in their final five games if they want to have a chance of earning an NCAA Tournament bid.

“This deep in the season… we can’t let that happen, especially with what we’re trying to get accomplished,” Trawick said.

The Blue and Gray will have a chance to redeem themselves this Thursday night, as they will travel to face Seton Hall (13-12, 4-8 Big East) at 9:00p.m. Earlier this season on January 18, the Pirates defeated the Hoyas 67-57 at Verizon Center.

Photo: Freddy Rosas/Georgetown Voice

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