Closeout: Georgetown 69, St. John’s 49

Georgetown wrapped the game on a 21-4 run Sunday afternoon, putting away a tense game with stingy defense and selfless offense. The closing effort impressively punctuated an otherwise uneven game.

Georgetown started the game slowly, scoring just five points over the first eight minutes. The Hoyas settled for three-pointers, several from well beyond the stripe, as the Red Storm racked up transition baskets, building an eight-point lead. But just when pessimism was setting in, the Hoyas’ offense began to click. Jason Clark hit a three out of the timeout, then Henry Sims rattled off five straight points out of the post and short corner. The made baskets allowed to Georgetown to set up its zone, which proved tremendously effective against a St. John’s squad that made nothing all day from deep. The Red Storm went scoreless for more than six minutes, and managed just six more points before the half. For its point, Georgetown shot just 31 percent from the field for the half, and so couldn’t pull away. Still, ten offensive rebounds gave the Hoyas enough extra possessions to take a 25-19 lead into intermission.

In the second half, the Hoyas cracked the St. John’s zone. Georgetown moved the ball more crisply, finding plenty of open looks by weak-side ball reversals. Those clean shots went down, as the Hoyas shot 55 percent from the field after the break. Hollis Thompson led the charge, scoring all 20 of his points in the second half, almost entirely from beyond the arc, where Hollywood hit five treys, and on the break, where he hit a pair of layups.

In addition to improved shooting, Georgetown’s second half offensive surge was fueled by a continued assault on the offensive glass, where the Hoyas gathered eight second-half extra possessions other the top of the Red Storm’s over-matched zone. In all, more Hoya misses were grabbed by the Hoyas themselves (18) than by St. John’s (15). Greg Whittington (8 points, 8 rebounds) and Otto Porter (13 points, 10 rebounds) were particularly aggressive on the glass, gathering six and five offensive rebounds, respectively.

Still, St. John’s hung around, as a pair of Red Storm free throws made the deficit just three with six minutes and change remaining. But then everything the Hoyas did well to that point coalesced. The defensive pressure continued, good ball movement led to easy baskets for whoever was open (five Hoyas scored in the closing kick), and the offensive glass continued to provide easy second chances. At the same time, Georgetown’s main foil, St. John’s freshman stud Moe Harkless (21 points, 10 rebounds), fouled out, leaving the Red Storm without a go-to offensive option. In the end, Georgetown turned a tight game into a seeming blowout, leaving Madison Square Garden with a road win, all the more crucial in the Big East, in which seven of the sixteen teams finished the weekend with two conference losses.  The Hoyas will stay on the road, traveling to Chicago where on Tuesday they’ll face a DePaul squad on the rise. Hoya Saxa.

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