Red Dead Redemption: Red Storm run by Hoyas in New York rematch

NEW YORK—A tale of two games.

The last time Georgetown and St. John’s met on Feb. 17, the Hoyas played the role of aggressor, easily routing the Red Storm 79-57 at Verizon Center. Saturday’s contest, however, had a complete role reversal, as St. John’s (20-9, 9-7 Big East) overpowered Georgetown (18-9, 10-6 Big East), 81-70, in front of 13,615 fans at Madison Square Garden.

Despite a game-high 29 points from junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and senior forward Mikael Hopkins’ second career double-double, 10 points and 14 rebounds, the Hoyas struggled to match the energy of the Red Storm, who led for double-digits for much of the game. The loss snapped the Hoyas’ three-game winning streak and moves them back from second-place to third in the Big East standings.

“I’m not going to say that we didn’t match their intensity,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said after the game. “I think our execution, on both of the ends of the court, wasn’t where it needed to be.”

St. John’s senior guard Phil Greene IV and senior forward Sir’Dominic Pointer celebrated their Senior Day in style, wreaking havoc on the Hoyas’ defense throughout the contest.

Greene IV had a career-high 26 points off 9-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-7 from three-point range, while Pointer tied his career-high scoring total with 24 points off 8-of-13 shooting. The Red Storm shot a devastating 50 percent from three-point range, 8-of-16 to down the Hoyas at the Madison Square Garden for the second consecutive season.

“To their credit, they came out at both ends of the court and played very well,” Thompson said. “That was a hell of performance by Greene and Pointer.”

Smith-Rivera’s three-pointer at the 17:51 mark of the first half gave the Hoyas an early 6-5 lead, their last of the game. The Red Storm then proceeded to catch fire as they erupted for a 10-0 run over the next 2:14 to put them up 16-6 after a layup by Pointer. The Red Storm held serve from there as they entered halftime with a 43-32 lead.

In the second half, the Hoyas cut the lead to as little as nine, 45-36, after another three from Smith-Rivera with 17:21 left in regulation. That was the last time the Blue and Gray cut the deficit to single-digits, however, as St. John’s grew their lead to as many as 17 points en route to the win.

Smith-Rivera felt the Hoyas had a chance to make the game competitive towards the end but felt him and his teammates did not execute. The Hoyas’ 13 turnovers and St. John’s 13 offensive rebounds put a damper on any hopes of a comeback.

“They got a lot of offensive rebounds, a lot of long rebounds and they pretty much capitalized on all of them,” said Smith-Rivera.

After posting a double-double in the Hoyas’ last game against DePaul, senior center Joshua Smith could not stay out of foul trouble. The UCLA transfer fouled out in just eight minutes of playing time, finishing with just five points and three rebounds.

“It hurt a lot. You have to give St. John’s credit for that,” Thompson said of not having Smith for much of the game. “They went at him and they attacked him. That was part of their game-plan and they were successful with that. Not having him out there hurt a lot.”

The win by the Johnnies punctuated a successful 3-0 homestand to close their home schedule. Other than No. 6 Villanova (27-2, 14-2 Big East) who has 10 straight since falling to Georgetown on Jan. 19, no team has played better basketball as of late than St. John’s, who have won six of their last seven games.

“The stars were aligned for them today,” Thompson said. “We had too many breakdowns defensively when we needed to get stops.”

The Hoyas return to action this Tuesday night for the their final Big East road game when they travel to face No. 23 Butler (21-8, 11-5 Big East) at famed Hinkle Fieldhouse. Tip-off is slated for 7:00p.m. The Blue and Gray will look to complete the season sweep of the Bulldogs, who they defeated 61-59 on Jan. 17 at Verizon Center off freshman forward Isaac Copeland’s game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds.

Additional reporting by Isabel Echarte

Photo: Georgetown University

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