In a throwback to Big East tournament glory days, the Georgetown men’s basketball team came up just short in a 74-73 loss to St. John’s on Wednesday night, marking the conclusion of its second straight losing season.
The Georgetown men’s basketball team’s season concluded Wednesday night courtesy of the 23 fouls and 13 turnovers that plagued Georgetown (14-18, 5-13 Big East) during its loss to the 8-seed St. John’s Red Storm (14-19, 7-11 Big East), as the Hoyas fail to reach the NCAA Tournament and NIT for the second consecutive year.
The fate of the Hoyas’ season was not decided until the final buzzer. Down 74-73 with 6.6 seconds to go, junior guard L.J. Peak caught the inbounds pass at the top of the key and used a screen to drive to the rim. Unable to get the shot to fall, sophomore forward Marcus Derrickson corralled the offensive rebound but could not convert on the 5-foot put back.
Georgetown benefitted from early shooting struggles by St. John’s, as the Red Storm showed signs of postseason jitters by bricking six first-half shots. St. John’s managed to shoot 30 percent from the floor and 25 percent from deep in the first half. Nevertheless, the Red Storm closed the half on a 15-8 run and took a four-point lead into the locker room.
The Hoyas’ inability to stay out of foul trouble decimated Georgetown’s chances of taking advantage of early St. John’s mishaps. The Hoyas committed 14 first-half fouls and sent the Red Storm to the line 18 times, on which they converted 15 free throws.
The Hoyas also had to adjust their rotation due to the fouls. Derrickson picked up three fouls — two coming from crashing the offensive glass — and did not see action for the remainder of the half. After taking just his second shot of the half, Peak was whistled for his second foul. Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III shut down Peak for the rest of the half, creating a one-dimensional Hoya offense. Graduate student guard and leading scorer Rodney Pryor missed six of his last eight field goals after Peak exited.
Peak came out of halftime looking to attack, scoring 22 of his 24 points in the second half.
“That’s just how I play,” Peak said. “I come out aggressive. It’s something I do, and I have to impact the game somehow.
The Hoyas and Red Storm traded baskets for much of the second half. With just over eight minutes to go, Peak drove and was fouled hard by St. John’s junior forward Amar Alibegovic, who was whistled for a flagrant one. Senior center Bradley Hayes confronted Alibegovic, and a scuffle ensued. St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin, who initially raced across the floor to restrain his players, began jawing with Georgetown assistant coach Patrick Ewing Jr.
“I asked him if he was going to beat me up like his father did. He was a little baby when we were on the [1992 Olympics] trip to Barcelona,” Mullin said.
As the calls were sorted out, Madison Square Garden came alive. A “Let’s go Johnnies” chant reigned throughout the arena, and Red Storm freshman guard Shamorie Ponds hit a big momentum three.
“A lot of emotions came out. It was a hard foul. Everybody just got rattled up,” Ponds said.
A big inconsistency for the Hoyas all year was free throw shooting, and last night fit the narrative. Georgetown missed 11-of-25 attempts, including several crucial ones late in the game. Peak missed a pair with two minutes remaining and Hayes bricked his first of two attempts down two with 42 seconds remaining.
The loss was tough for Pryor, who finished his last collegiate game with 17 points on 7-17 shooting.
“It’s just a blessing,” Pryor said regarding his only appearance in the Big East tournament. “It’s what I signed up for. I knew the Big East was going to be like this. It was just a blessing to be part of it.”
Thompson deflected repeated questions about the state of the program, wanting to keep his focus on supporting his team.
“I will give you the same answer that I just gave,” Thompson said.
“Right now at this time I’m concerned about the young men that are in [the locker room]. Later on tonight, tomorrow, I don’t know when, I’ll sit back and assess the season and all that, but right now we have a group of kids that played hard. They played hard. They gave themselves for each other, for their institution. They’re hurting right now and that’s my concern at this second.”
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.