It was the first overtime of the season for St. John's and the first of the 91 contests with Georgetown.
Despite being plagued by poor shooting, turnovers and foul trouble for much of the game, the Johnnies (15-15, 6-11 BIG EAST) showed a team effort, battled back and blanked the Hoyas (15-13, 7-10) 59-56 Tuesday night in its final home game of the season at Madison Square Garden.
"It was definitely one of the best games I've been a part of as a coach," St. John's head coach Norm Roberts said to redstormsports.com. "I was really proud of our guys."
St. John's sophomore forward Rob Thomas was the MVP of the game and provided the spark off the bench to ignite the St. John's squad. Thomas nailed two crucial free throws to close the gap, tying the contest 51-all with 2.3 seconds remaining in regulation and moving the Johnnies into overtime.
"Crazy," Thomas said of the clutch shots at the charity stripe. "I had a lot of stuff running through my mind and I looked over at Coach and he was like, `Settle down, hit the front rim, take your time.' So I took my time and I knocked them down."
En route to his new career-high 16 points, Thomas, who also had seven boards, tied the game at 55-all with a step-back jumper in the post-regulation period. D.J. Kennedy added a great effort on both sides of the floor for the young Johnnies squad, as the sophomore swingman completed both free throws, giving St. John's its final lift over the Hoyas with 1:15 left in overtime.
Georgetown would not be able to work out a set plan as the Johnnies added another field goal off an offensive board and a rim-rocker by sophomore forward Justin Burrell.
Kennedy finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, while Burrell and fellow post-man Sean Evans finished with eight a piece.
St. John's saw a deficit of as much as 15 points, 45-30, at the 10:42 mark of the second stanza. But, the Johnnies unexpectedly climbed out of the hole and took control of the momentum. St. John's sophomore guard Paris Horne, also contributing 16 points in the victory, scored the team's first field goal of the second half on a lay-in to the hole with a little over seven minutes left in regulation.
"[The win] feels great because last game against Syracuse we played poorly and Syracuse ran us out of the building," Horne said. "So that was another reason why we got up and made sure that we got this win. Because it's not over yet, we've still got a lot of play for."
After missing its first 14 shots following halftime, St. John's continued to maintain composure and went on a 17-4 run, capped by a three by Horne, to bring the game within two, 49-47, with about 1:30 remaining in the game.
St. John's went into action when Georgetown stopped scoring. The Hoyas started off the second half with a run, but later collapsed. Hoyas freshman center Greg Monroe paced his team with a game-high 18 points, while teammate junior forward DaJuan Summers added 10.
The first period was neither teams' best basketball, as both Big East squads were loaded with errors resulting in a low-scoring half.
The score was 31-29 at the break.