NEW YORK – For 33 minutes and 12 seconds, Georgetown (15-13, 6-11 Big East) got away with ugly turnovers, missed free throws and one of its sloppiest offensive showings of the season. Then St. John’s (15-15, 6-11) hit a field goal.

It doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to spark a 25-10 Red Storm run that crushed the Hoyas nascent hope for an NCAA tournament berth and caused Head Coach John Thompson III to say that the game was likely his most frustrating loss as a coach.

Despite playing aggressive defense throughout the first 33 minutes, which led to 12 steals and 18 Red Storm turnovers, Georgetown was unable to convert its defensive successes to success on the offensive end.

With sophomore guard Austin Freeman out due to a hip pointer injury suffered in practice Monday night, Thompson struggled to find a rotation he liked, and Georgetown played with 17 different lineups in the first 33:12.

All of that volatility resulted in an offense that was at times without any interior presence and other times just seemed unable to score. It’s hard to develop chemistry on the floor with such constant changes in personnel, and while it’s hard to fault Thompson for searching for a lineup that works, the offense certainly might have benefited from some consistency.

However awkward the Hoyas were on offense, their failures on the boards were what kept the first three-quarters of the game close enough for a St. John’s comeback. The Hoyas were outrebounded by 13, wiping out the advantage gained by the Red Storm’s 18 turnovers.

According to St. John’s Head Coach Norm Roberts, “Everything that could go wrong did go wrong,” and the Hoyas paid for not capitalizing on such an awful stretch of basketball from the Red Storm.

When a field goal by sophomore guard Paris Horne ended his team’s second-half drought, St. John’s suddenly found the offensive confidence to go along with its unremitting defensive pressure and rebounding.

Suddenly, rather than forcing up shots and rushing in transition, St. John’s began to systematically attack the Georgetown defense, and more importantly, actually hit its shots. After missing 14 attempts to start the second half, the Red Storm finished by making seven of their last 10 in regulation.

Once the Red Storm started actually scoring, the Hoya offense went into panic mode. Despite freshman center Greg Monroe’s consistent success in the paint, he only attempted one shot for the rest of regulation while the rest of the team seemed unable to put anything in the hoop.

The Hoyas were even worse on the glass at the end, giving up three huge offensive rebounds after rare Red Storm misses, and finishing with only two rebounds – both by Monroe – in the game’s final seven minutes. After the game, an extremely dejected Thompson talked about the Hoyas rebounding woes.

“[St. John’s] did a better job of pursuing the ball. . The disparity can’t be that big,” he said.

uch like the Hoyas’ Elite Eight victory over North Carolina in 2007, once the St. John’s comeback forced overtime, Georgetown was completely deflated and outmatched.

All it took was an errant Monroe pass when he should have gone up to the rim and two missed free throws by redshirt freshman forward Nikita Mescheriakov, and the Red Storm were celebrating what Roberts described as one of his most exciting career wins.

After the excitement of the Villanova upset, this loss cuts especially deep for the Hoyas. When asked if his team had made progress this season, Thompson was ambivalent.

“We’ve made progress in some areas, we have not in others,” he said.

Now there is only one path to the Big Dance available for the Hoyas, and in a week, they will have to return to the site of this crushing defeat and win at least four games against some of the best teams college basketball has to offer.

As crushing as an ugly second-half collapse like this one can be, the apparent lack of progress from a young team full of talent seems to be the most devastating part of the Hoyas’ Madison Square Garden meltdown.

Next up for Georgetown is DePaul at home for Senior Day. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. Saturday at Verizon Center.

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