Hoyas plummet below .500
ST. JOHN’S 86, GEORGETOWN 80
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.”