St. John's basketball hangs on to defeat Georgetown to snap losing streak

It felt like a similar story for the St. John's basketball team against Georgetown but prevailed in the final minutes

St. Johns v Xavier
St. Johns v Xavier / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

The script was written again for the St. John's basketball team, but it had a different ending this time.

After the media storm around the program following Rick Pitino's comments after blowing a 19-point lead on Sunday against Seton Hall, the Johnnies opened up a 21-point lead, 35-14, against Georgetown on Wednesday night.

In typical fashion, the Johnnies faltered during the final four minutes of the first half and let the Hoyas have life going into halftime on a 14-2 run, cutting its deficit to 39-32.

"Every basketball team has runs," Rick Pitino explained after the game.

St. John's quickly got the lead back to double figures in the second half and played with a comfortable advantage throughout the game, pushing the lead to as many as 17 points after halftime, until Georgetown got hot late.

Wayne Bristol Jr. made it a 3-point game, 84-81, with 43.6 seconds remaining but an RJ Luis dunk pushed the lead back to two possessions and the Red Storm would ice the game at the free throw line, winning 90-85.

"The good thing is they made tough shots, and we never said let's milk the clock. We kept punching the basket and that's the key to winning a close game on the road," Pitino continued.

"It's tough to play on the road. When you get a road victory, I don't care where it's at and who you're playing, it's a great victory."

The defense and inability to stop fouling in the second half was still a major issue, allowing Georgetown (8-18, 1-14 Big East) to shoot 54.5-percent from the field and 60.0-percent (6-for-10) from the 3-point line while making 11-of-15 free throws.

However, Georgetown's defense was far worse and the uncontested shots St. John's constantly found were a major reason behind the victory.

The Johnnies (15-12, 7-9 Big East) shot 57.6-percent from the floor, a season-high, behind 22 points from Jordan Dingle, who scored the first nine points for the Storm, and 19 points by Luis.

Pitino's message to his team was to play to win the game, rather than playing not to lose, and it resonated with the Red Storm.

"It's a little bit hectic when teams go on runs like that at the end," Dingle said. "It's just a reminder not to play with fear of losing a lead. We have to keep being aggressive and doing that things that got us a lead."

It sets up a critical showdown on Sunday afternoon (12:00 p.m., CBS) at The Garden for the Johnnies to have any chance at an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament against No. 15 Creighton (20-7, 11-5 Big East), who just walloped No. 1 UConn by 19 points on Tuesday night.