03/10/2009 5:27 PM ET
St. John's lives for another day
Red Storm disposes of Georgetown in Big East Tourney
By Adam Zagoria / SNY.tv
Paris Horne had 23 points and took over down the stretch as St. John's again defeated Georgetown in New York. (AP)

NEW YORK -- March Madness will continue for St. John's.

At least for another day.

With former St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca and legendary St. John's guard Chris Mullin looking on from behind the bench, the 13th-seeded Red Storm beat 12th-seeded Georgetown 64-59 to advance to the second round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.

It was the Johnnies second win over the Hoyas in eight days at the Garden and their first Big East Tournament win since 2003.

But there won't be much time to celebrate.

St. John's (16-16), which missed the tournament a year ago when only the top 12 teams qualified, must turn around and face No. 5 Marquette (23-8) on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

"You want to be in the tournament, you're in the tournament," St. John's coach Norm Roberts said.

"I said to them that the bottom line is, 'Here's the moment. You are either going to define the moment or you are going to let the moment define you.'"

Trailing 52-50 in the final minutes, the Red Storm took control, closing the game on a 14-7 run. Paris Horne scored six straight points during the spurt and finished with a game-high 23 points.

St.John's made six of seven foul shots in the final 1:34, including a perfect 4-of-4 from Sean Evans, who finished with 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. D.J. Kennedy added 14 points.

Chris Wright led the Hoyas with 14 points and Greg Monroe scored 13.

When the final buzzer sounded, Evans said he thought to himself: "A lot of hard work is paying off. We kept fighting. It shows the character of the team and how much the coaches believe in us."

The Red Storm has been beset with injuries all season. Their top player, Anthony Mason Jr., was lost early in the season with a foot injury. Malik Boothe missed nine games with a thumb injury and Justin Burrell had to wear a face mask for part of the season after suffering facial fractures.

Through it all, the coach also faced repeated questions about his job security.

"We weren't dealt some very good cards throughout the whole year," Roberts said. "I'm just happy that we're able to get this victory and move on to the next round."

St. John's led by as many as nine points, 46-37, midway through the second half but the Hoyas rattled off a 12-0 run and took a 49-46 lead on a 3-pointer from the right wing by Jessie Sapp with 6:04 remaining.

St. John's took a 53-52 lead when Horne drove the paint and made a tremendous ball-fake before scoring on a driving layup. He added a foul shot for the one-point lead.

Horne then drained a 3-pointer from the left side to put the Johnnies up 56-52.

"Even before he shot it, Malik's jumping around going, 'It's good, it's good' and when your point guard feels that way about you, it gives you confidence," Roberts said.

With 20.2 seconds left, Evans fouled Austin Freeman, who hit both foul shots to make it 60-59.

Burrell then made two for the Johnnies to make it 62-59.

Georgetown called a timeout with 15.3 seconds remaining to call a play.

But out of the timeout, Nikita Mescheriakov missed a 3-point from the right corner that hit the backboard and bounced out of bounds.

Quincy Roberts, a 77-percent foul shooter, was fouled by Freeman on the ensuing play and he made both to ice the game at 64-59.

Georgetown (16-14), once a top-10 team, closed the season by dropping six of nine and must hope for an NIT bid.

"It's extremely disappointing," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "This is the Big East Tournament. When you lose in this tournament it's tough."

Adam Zagoria is a regular contributor to SNY.tv. Read his blog at ZagsBlog.com.
Write a Comment! Post a Comment