January 27, 2011

G-Town Trounces Storm

Though St. John's came into the matchup seeking to snap its losing streak in BIG EAST play, the Johnnies (11-8, 4-5) did not meet the challenge that No. 21/20 Georgetown posed on the hardwood.

Instead the Hoyas (15-5, 4-4) were able to prove themselves worthy of its national ranking this time around, as well as get some payback for the game that it dropped against the Red Storm earlier this month.

Georgetown saw major contributions from its three-guard tandem of leading scorers Jason Clark (game-high 16 points, five rebounds), Austin Freeman (14 points) and Chris Wright (nine points, six assists). As a result, the Hoyas served the Red Storm a hard-to-swallow 77-52 trouncing at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. and sent the Storm home with its third consecutive loss in conference play.

Georgetown made sure not to slip into the same mistakes it fell into on Jan. 3, when St. John's clipped the Hoyas on its home court at Madison Square Garden. The Hoyas simply executed everything that they were not able to do in the first meeting, while maintaining elements of what it did do correctly against the Red Storm. Most notably, Georgetown exploited the openings in the Johnnies' defense from the inside out in the first and second half, as well as kept its fouling numbers down.

St. John's stayed with Georgetown in the opening minutes of the first half, leading the Hoyas 13-12 on a jumper by Justin Brownlee (nine points, five rebounds) at the 12:15 mark of the primary stanza. The lead was short-lived as Georgetown big man Julian Vaughn (nine points, eight rebounds) cashed in on the inside with a nice dunk to bring the Queens, N.Y. squad up by one point, 14-13. The Johnnies went ahead again, 16-14, at the 11:42 mark of the stanza on the completion of an and-1 opportunity by Justin Burrell (team-high 12 points, eight rebounds) on a basket assisted by D.J. Kennedy (seven points, five rebounds).

That would be the largest and last lead the Johnnies would hold, as the Hoyas went on a 14-4 run, sparked by Hollis Thompson (15 points, six rebounds), in the ensuing minutes. Georgetown's surge, capped with a 3-pointer by Freeman, resulted in an eight-point advantage, 28-20, by the 6:35 mark of the first half.

Going back to the lineup that consisted of its starting five - Dwight Hardy (10 points, five rebounds), Paris Horne, Dwayne Polee, Kennedy and Brownlee - St. John's was able to narrow the deficit to three points, 30-27, with 5:01 remaining in the half. But, the Johnnies mini-run was short-lived, as the Hoyas parlayed into a 10-0 run to close out the half with a 40-27 lead.

In the second half, St. John's began with a little pizzazz. The Johnnies went on a 9-1 run to bring the game within five points, 41-36, at the 15:44 mark of the second half. However, that would be the closest St. John's would come to Georgetown for the duration of the game.

Because of the physicality of Vaughn on the low block, the Hoyas stayed strong off the defensive glass to prevent St. John's from getting that many second-chance opportunities. The D.C. squad even outrebounded the Storm by a +9 margin (39-30).

Georgetown's Clark, who averaged 12.7 points coming into the game, stepped up and led his team with his game-high 16 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 from behind the arc. In fact, Clark, Freeman and Wright, who combined for 7-of-25 from the field in the first meeting with the Johnnies earlier this month, conversely, combined on 14-of-30 shooting.

St. John's slipped on its strong perimeter defense, which could have been due to the limited minutes of Horne - the squad's best perimeter defender - because of very early foul trouble. Georgetown's offensive wave was paced by its 50-percent fluidity from beyond the arc (9-of-18) - many of which went uncontested.

St. John's did not drive to the middle like it usually does to be successful in a game. Instead, the Red Storm opted to pass to Hardy, who only netted 4-of-16 from the field, including a poor effort from the perimeter (2-of-8). As a result of St. John's less aggressive approach to the rack, the squad did not challenge the defense of the Hoyas enough to get to the line as often as needed.

Georgetown used the rest of the second half to drive to the rack and perimeter shoot its way to as much as a 26-point advantage, 75-49, with 2:48 remaining in the contest.

Overall, the Hoyas shot 51 percent (26-of-51), while the Johnnies shot only 33.9 percent (20-of-59) from the field.

Georgetown was St. John's seventh consecutive Top 25 nationally-ranked opponent this month.

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