Playing with an extreme confidence and cohesion, the St. John's Red Storm went into Madison Square Garden and proved that their win over Georgetown was not a fluke.
On Tuesday, in the Big East Tournament, the Johnnies advanced to the second round, defeating the Hoyas for the second time in a week, 64-59.
Paris Horne would lead the Johnnies with 23 points, hitting critical 3-pointers down the stretch. "Paris has done this pretty much all year," says Coach Norm Roberts.
While the Johnnies shot poorly at the top of the first half but managed to penetrate and stay close with high percentage shots. With 9:33 remaining, Horne excited the crowd with a dunk in transition.
Double teams on Greg Monroe limited his touches but the freshman center was effective in the paint scoring 13 points going 4 for 10.
Chris Wright, who scored a team high 14 points, put the Hoyas up 17-11 with 8:00 remaining in the half but Horne would splash a three pointer left of the key.
The Red Storm's defensive effort on Monroe resulted in tie ups often and the up tempo pace that St. John's implemented paid off with transition buckets.
With 3:52 remaining in the half, a 3-pointer by point guard Malik Boothe gave the Red Storm their first lead 23-22.
Full court pressure on the Hoyas guard proved to be successful for the Red Storm as Georgetown only shot 34.5% in the first half. With 4.3 seconds left Wright would foul Horne on a fast break with the score tied at 28. Going 2-2, St. John's would take a 30-28 first half lead into the locker room.
Early in the second half, the lead jockeyed back and forth as St. John's continued to frustrate Monroe in the paint.
In a scary moment, the Johnnies were up, 34-32 when Quincy Roberts would get fouled by Wright while driving hard to the basket on a fast break. As a result of the hard foul, Roberts would run into his teammate, D.J. Kennedy (14 points) who would then collide with the referee. While Kennedy would recover quickly, it would take a bit longer for the referee, who had to be replaced.
While Sean Evans struggled on offense, shooting 4 for 12, he was played well on defense snaring 13 rebounds as the Red Storm kept the forced Georgetown into bad shot selections. Evans would finally get on track offensively off a high light reel dunk, followed by an and-1 off a Boothe steal and assist.
Georgetown would find themselves down by 9 points as they struggled to get baskets. "We didn't execute on the offensive end or on the defensive end and they did," said Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson lll.
Monroe would pick up his 4th foul with 4:53 left in the game and Evans would pull St. John's to within 1 going 2-2 on from the line. Monroe would eventually foul out.
With Georgetown center out, the Red Storm would close out strong to advance.
St. John's played consistently throughout the game and seemed poised and focused. "Coach always says, anybody can beat any team in this league, so we knew it was our day," said Evans.
In the second round, St. John's will face Marquette in less than 24 hours.