It was just like old times: Georgetown men’s basketball Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) and Hall of Famer Chris Mullin, St. John’s men’s basketball head coach, faced off in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday in a rematch of the 1985 Big East Championship. When it came down to the wire, Georgetown’s big man proved to be all the difference. However, unlike that 1985 Big East Championship, Tuesday’s contest was an attempt to avoid falling to last place in the Big East. Georgetown proved victorious once again.

For the better part of 40 minutes, St. John’s (10-7, 0-5 Big East) and Georgetown (12-4, 2-3 Big East) traded leads. The game was tied with less than a minute left in regulation when junior center Jessie Govan sank a three-pointer with 25 seconds to play to give Georgetown a 69-66 victory.

Despite prolonged stretches of turnovers and scoring droughts, the Hoyas overcame their initial miscues to pull out a much-needed win in the Garden, moving into a tie with the Butler Bulldogs (12-6, 2-3 Big East) for seventh in the conference.

After hitting six of their first nine shots, the Hoyas struggled for the remainder of the first half. Georgetown missed 21 of its next 24 field goals in the first half, coupled with 13 turnovers. After senior point guard Jonathan Mulmore picked up a quick second foul, Ewing elected to preserve Mulmore for the second half, limiting his ways to attack an aggressive St. John’s backcourt.

Despite the Hoyas’ 22 turnovers and an eight-block performance from the Red Storm’s redshirt junior forward Tariq Owens, the Hoyas were able to punish the Red Storm on the glass. Georgetown out-rebounded  St. John’s for the game. Nineteen of Georgetown’s 49 total rebounds came on the offensive glass. Govan bounced back from Georgetown’s loss to Creighton (14-3, 4-1 Big East), scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Since the team’s last game against Creighton, Govan has seen a plethora of double teams and traps every time he gets the ball on the block. Ewing has preached that more pressure and attention from opposing defenses cannot be an excuse for a lack of production.

“They were trying to do things to frustrate him,” Ewing said after the game, referring to Govan. “He got some offensive rebounds, putbacks; he got to the free throw line, and that was a big three he made.”

With Govan frequently the focal point of the Georgetown offense, Ewing acknowledged that he needs to get the most out of Govan every night if the team wants to win on a consistent basis.

“Jessie made a tough shot for us: 18 points, 13 rebounds. I’ve been riding him a lot. I’m trying to get the best out of him, and I told him this is the time of the year if he wants to try to get to the next level. These are the times he has to play at his best, and he did in the second half,” Ewing said.

Georgetown led for most of the second half. Junior forward Marcus Derrickson, who went viral last week after Ewing chastised him during a timeout, also recovered from the Creighton game, posting 17 points with a pair of threes, eight rebounds and three steals.

Sophomore guard Jagan Mosely also played a critical role during crunch time. Despite struggling with turnovers, Mosely made a couple of shots to widen the Hoyas’ lead to 57-49 with under five minutes to play. After an 8-0 run by St. John’s tied the game and flipped the momentum, Mosely came up with a big steal and dunk to stop the bleeding. After a few crucial free throws, Govan’s three proved enough for the Hoyas to escape the Garden with a win.

“It was one of those ugly games, but I was just happy that we got the win. The guys fought hard; we made some mistakes, but we played hard. Especially the way that we played against Creighton — this was a great way to bounce back. They did all the things they needed to do to get the win,” Ewing said.

Despite the fanfare and nostalgia that Ewing and Mullin brought to the game from the sidelines, the Hoyas needed this win to avoid falling to the bottom of the rankings. Sitting at 2-3 in the Big East, the Hoyas are both two games behind first-place Creighton and two games ahead of last-place St. John’s in the Big East. Georgetown now pivots to what may be considered its two toughest games this regular season: away at No. 13 Seton Hall (14-3, 3-1 Big East) and at home against No. 1 Villanova (15-1, 3-1 Big East).

The Hoyas’ game Saturday at 12 p.m. against Seton Hall will be televised on Fox Sports 1, streamed on the Fox Sports Go app and aired locally on 106.7 WJFK-FM.

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