Hoyas plum­met below .500

ST. JOHN’S 86, GE­ORGE­TOWN 80

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY GENE WANG gene.wang@wash­post.com

Ge­orge­town loses to St. John’s to drop below .500 as calls for the dis­missal of Coach John Thomp­son III con­tinue to grow.

new york — Even on the road, Ge­orge­town’s John Thomp­son III couldn’t es­cape calls for his dis­missal. An 86-80 loss Satur­day af­ter­noon to St. John’s, win­ner of one Big East game last sea­son, served only to cloud fur­ther the fu­ture of the Hoyas’ em­bat­tled men’s bas­ket­ball coach.

The lat­est blow comes three days af­ter a 67-65 loss to re­build­ing DePaul at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter in which Thomp­son and his play­ers de­parted the court to chants of “Fire Thomp­son.” Dis­grun­tled fans seated in a Ge­orge­town sec­tion at Madi­son Square Gar­den shouted the same Satur­day while wit­ness­ing the Hoyas lose for the fifth time in six games and drop below .500.

Ge­orge­town’s three-game win­ning streak against the Red Storm ended amid 22 turnovers that led to 25 points for St. John’s. The loss also en­sures that the Hoyas (14-15, 5-11) will play a first-round game in the Big East tour­na­ment March 8, mean­ing they would need to win four games in as many days to se­cure an au­to­matic berth in the NCAA tour­na­ment.

Bar­ring that im­prob­a­ble oc­cur­rence, Ge­orge­town will miss March Mad­ness for the third time in four sea­sons.

“First, our fans are ter­rific and have been ter­rific,” Thomp­son said. “They’ve ex­pe­ri­enced some good times with us, and we’re at a point now, with the way this year is go­ing, where I un­der­stand. I don’t think there’s any­one in the build­ing that’s more frus­trated than I am, so I un­der­stand. We are ac­cus­tomed to win­ning and not hav­ing stretches like this.”

Trail­ing the en­tire sec­ond half, Ge­orge­town got within 78-77 on a three-point play by Rod­ney Pryor — he stole an in­bounds pass, sank a layup and hit a free throw af­ter draw­ing a foul with 1:19 to play. But the Red Storm (13-16, 7-9) never re­lin­quished the lead, go­ing 8 for 8 from the free throw line to close out the game in front of an an­nounced crowd of 11,277.

Pryor led four Hoyas in dou­ble fig­ures by scor­ing 22 points, mak­ing 5 of 10 three-point­ers, with five re­bounds and four as­sists. Ju­nior guard L.J. Peak had 20 points on 6-for-10 shoot­ing but com­mit­ted six turnovers while play­ing much of the game in foul trou­ble.

The Hoyas’ 22 turnovers, their most in a Big East game this sea­son, trumped their 53 per­cent shoot­ing, in­clud­ing 7 for 16 (44 per­cent) on three-point­ers. Six­teen of Ge­orge­town’s turnovers came in the first half, lead­ing to ques­tions of whether the DePaul loss was still weigh­ing on the team.

“No, I don’t think it was car­ry­over,” Pryor said. “We’ve just got to start the game bet­ter.”

Six straight points for St. John’s com­ing out of half­time pro­vided a 41-36 lead. The Hoyas trailed 4841 af­ter St. John’s guard-for­ward Bashir Ahmed swished a three­p­ointer, but Ge­orge­town coun­tered with six in a row of its own, cul­mi­nat­ing in Pryor’s fourth three-pointer of the game.

The Hoyas clawed to 52-51 with 11:35 left in the sec­ond half on a turn­around jumper by sopho­more cen­ter Jessie Go­van and con­tin­u­ally got within a point over the next sev­eral min­utes, in­clud­ing at 60-59 on a long jumper from Pryor with 7:20 to play. But the Red Storm then ex­tended the lead to 63-59 on guard Fed­erico Mussini’s three­p­ointer with 7:11 to go, and even­tu­ally it pulled away.

The first half in­cluded an ap­pear­ance from Ge­orge­town ju­nior guard Tre Camp­bell. Camp­bell, a re­serve, had missed the pre­vi­ous four games with a knee in­jury stem­ming from the team bus ac­ci­dent Feb. 6, when Ge­orge­town was trav­el­ing to the Philadel­phia area to play Vil­lanova.

Yet the Hoyas still were with­out an­other one of their guards, starter Ja­gan Mosely. The fresh­man is out in­def­i­nitely with a shoul­der in­jury suf­fered while div­ing for a loose ball against the Blue De­mons, who re­main the only pro­gram with a worse record than Ge­orge­town’s in Big East play.

“I know that there’s no one who cares more than me,” Thomp­son said. “I know that my­self, my staff, our guys are work­ing hard, play­ing hard, and we’ll get this thing fixed.”

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