Recap: Georgetown's best first half in any game this season came in the previous meeting with St. John's. Arguably, the Hoyas' worst came in the rematch. Their four-game winning streak ended as a result.
St. John's scored the opening 15 points, led throughout and then fended off Georgetown's second-half charge as the Hoyas fell back under .500 in Big East play with an 82-60 loss on Sunday night.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 15, Markel Starks and Jabril Trawick each had 13 for the Hoyas (15-10, 6-7). Georgetown went without a point for the opening 6:14 and then scored only three points after Trawick fouled out on a double technical with 6:10 remaining.
Georgetown had won six straight in the series, the last five by double digits including 77-60 on Jan. 4. Now the Hoyas fall one game back of the Red Storm in the jumbled Big East standings.
Freshman point guard Rysheed Jordan scored the initial seven points and finished with 24 for the Red Storm (16-9, 7-6). After starting 0-5 in the conference, St. John's has won eight of nine. D'Angelo Harrison also tallied 24 points.
Starks finished 4 of 14 from the field and 1 of 6 from beyond the arc.
St. John's shot 68 percent (17 of 25) from the field before halftime and held a 22-point lead.
What happened: Entering the game St. John's talked openly about wanting this matchup due to Georgetown's recent dominance in the series. That edge showed from the start in front of the Madison Square Garden crowd. As the shooting percentage showed, the Red Storm also carved up the Hoyas defense throughout the first half thanks to the Jordan-Harrison backcourt.
Georgetown inched back from the early blow, but the Red Storm closed the first half with a 10-2 run for a 46-28 lead. No momentum swings initially in the second half until the Hoyas pulled closer with a 17-4 run. Trawick sank a 3-pointer and then fed Bowen for a fast break score, forcing St. John's to call a timeout at 56-49 with a 10:48 remaining.
Harrison countered with a 3-pointer and the Hoyas would not get closer. Just over four minutes later, Trawick hit the deck wrestling for a loose ball with St. John's big man Chris Obekpa and Georgetown trailing 67-57. Replays showed the Hoyas guard was inadvertently hit in the eye, but the officials ruled a double technical.
Trawick, who sparked the comeback, already had four personal fouls at the time, meaning the tech was his fifth. The Hoyas were outscored 15-3 from there.
Harrison: The Big East's third-leading scorer, Harrison knew nothing but misery against the Hoyas throughout his career. He had lost all five games versus the Hoyas and shot 4 of 33 over the past three games including a 1 of 12 for a season-low four points back in January. This time he made 7 of 15 field goal attempts and all eight of his free throws.
Fouls: Mikael Hopkins' recent trend of limited minutes due to foul trouble continued. The starting center picked up three fouls in the first half, which led to Moses Ayegba starting in the second half. Hopkins played a scoreless 10 minutes with four of Georgetown's 14 turnovers while missing all three of his attempts from the field. Six others received at least three fouls.
What about...:Aaron Bowen came off the bench to spark the Hoyas with six quick points after the initial drought and finished with nine. Though not the headliner, the senior swingman continues to make plays on both ends of the court including perimeter jumpers. While it won't in every scenario, it's become clear that Georgetown's best lineup includes Bowen with Smith-Rivera, Starks, Trawick and one big man, likely Lubick. However getting this unit together is the tricky part as Georgetown coach John Thompson III often sticks with two true interior options. Doesn't matter whether this unit starts, but keeping them on the court together should be considered when possible.
On deck: Seriously, who thought this schedule was a good thing. Georgetown plays at Seton Hall on Thursday with a 9 p.m. tip (CBSSN). Then the Hoyas are home on Saturday for an 11:30 a.m. - as in morning - start against Xavier.
Now what: The loss, while a blow, is not a dagger. Beat Seton Hall and the Hoyas are back on track to finish the Big East season with at least a .500 record and remain firmly in the NCAA Tournament at-large pool mix. However, their margin for error, that just got a whole lot smaller.