Madison Square Garden, NY. –The Johnnies led by guard and New York native Shamorie Ponds squeaked past its rival Georgetown 74-73 in the first round of the 2017 Big East Tournament. The game felt like the old rivalry when Chris Mullin use to run and down the hardwood.
Both teams started out very sluggish the Hoyas took an early advantage with a little over six minutes into play found a way to dribble drive into paint with Rodney Pryor lead 18-9, but St. Johns ran off five quick points and made the game respectable 19-14. Bashir Ahmed was heating up beyond the three-point arc for St. Johns.
The Johnnies underclassmen shined on under the bright lights of the Garden to help secure St. John‘s first BIG EAST Tournament win since 2011. Shamorie Ponds scored in double-figures for the 30th time this season, as the freshman from Brooklyn finished with a team-high 17 points and grabbed five rebounds. Sophomore guard Malik Ellison was also played lights out for the Red Storm chipping in 11 points, eight rebounds, six assistsand three steals in the win.
“We played well here as of late. Not last Saturday. But I tell these guys it’s nice it’s great. The home court advantage is tremendous and the enthusiasm they still have to go out there and perform. That energy and enthusiasm before the game is nice but you have to maintain for 40 minutes especially this time of year. The crowd was great. But more importantly they made big plays when they had to.” Said St. Johns Coach Chris Mullin.
Georgetown shot 43.3 percent from the field in the first half, but the Johnnies were able to hang with the Hoyas by holding them to just 30.8 percent from beyond the arc. St. John’s ball pressure and second chance shots were the difference in the second half.
St. John’s entered the 2017 Big East Tournament having won three of its last four games at the “The World ‘s Famous Arena.” The Johnnies most recently defeated its first round opponent No.9 seed Georgetown, 86-80 and its two prior wins at MSG came against NO.4 Marquette and N0.5 Seton Hall, which are opponents St. John’s would face if they advanced to the semifinals.
Georgetown’s L.J. Peak scored 22 of his game –high 24 points in the second half. Peak 24 points tied his season best which he previously netted against La Salle. It was his 14th game this season with at least 20 points. Bradley Hayes had a season high of block shots (4). Teammate Marcus Derrickson had a season high in rebounds (9) and tied his season best on offensive boards with (3).
St. John’s is now 2-5 all time versus the Hoyas in the Big East Tournament and has
won two straight in the series. The last win was a 64-59 decision in the 2009 first round. The Hoyas won the first five meetings in the tournament series.
St. John’s will test its luck against #1 seed Villanova Wildcats in the quarterfinals at noon. The game will be televise on FS1 network.