Georgetown fell to St. John’s 75-62 after a late-game collapse in the first round of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday night.
The March 11 loss at Madison Square Garden marks the Hoyas’ last game of the season, as the NIT and NCAA tournaments have both been canceled because of the spread of COVID-19.
Georgetown (15-17, 5-13 Big East) entered the game following six straight losses in Big East play, the most recent of which came against Villanova (24-7, 13-5 Big East) at home March 7, when Georgetown lost 70-69 following a controversial goaltending call.
The Hoyas’ losing record in the conference placed them as the eighth seed for the Big East Tournament, setting them up to play ninth-seeded St. John’s in the tournament’s opening game.
The Blue and Gray played the Red Storm (17-15, 5-13 Big East) twice before entering the tournament, winning both contests. Additionally, the return of Georgetown’s leading scorer and rebounder, senior center Omer Yurtseven, from injury gave the Hoyas an even greater shot at taking down St. John’s in its home city despite the Red Storm’s momentum on the heels of recent victories against Creighton and Marquette.
Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) explained his optimism heading into the conference tournament and his team’s opportunity to turn the season around.
“The Big East [tournament] is a new season; anything can happen. We could go into the Big East and run the table,” Ewing said in an interview with The Hoya on Friday, March 6.
The game started fairly evenly, with the teams trading baskets to open play. As the game stood tied at 14 after about seven minutes of play, the Red Storm powered a 10-3 run that helped them pull away from the Blue and Gray.
The Hoyas, however, came storming back with an 11-2 run of their own, bringing the score to 28-26 with six minutes left in the first half. The run was led by graduate student guard Terrell Allen, who finished as the Hoyas’ leading scorer with 21 points on the day. Allen played all but two minutes of the game and proved pivotal for Georgetown’s chances of victory. In the final game of his college career, Allen surpassed the 1,000 career point mark, finishing with 1,006 from his time at Georgetown, UCF and Drexel.
After St. John’s tied the game at 28 with a jumper in the paint, Georgetown dominated the final minutes of the first half. Headlined by a 10-0 run, the Hoyas set themselves up well for the second half as they headed to the locker room up 42-33.
Coming out of halftime, the Blue and Gray continued to dominate play, bringing the lead all the way up to 15 points behind a 6-0 run to start the half. With the double-digit advantage, Georgetown remained in control for practically the whole game but failed to hold on when it mattered the most.
Through the first 13 and a half minutes of the second half, the Hoyas maintained a cushion of at least two possessions behind eight points from Yurtseven and team 7-of-12 shooting from the field.
Allen scored the Hoyas’ final basket on a driving layup to give the Hoyas a double-digit lead at 62-52 with just under six and a half minutes on the clock. As he ran back down the court, Allen was in visible pain before collapsing to the floor on the other end as both of his calves cramped up. Allen had to briefly come out of the game, and his exit was the turning point for Georgetown.
Following Allen’s injury, St. John’s quickly clawed back into the game. Even with Allen returning in the next minute, the Red Storm went on a 23-0 run to finish off Georgetown, which had completely lost all offensive momentum as it conceded four turnovers and missed all of its 10 attempts from the field.
The Hoyas went 0-for-6 from behind the arc in the final six and a half minutes, and, despite a timeout to attempt to regroup from the eight-point deficit in the final minute and a half, failed to pull together any coordinated effort to stop the Red Storm.
Fueled by the crowd of over 17,000 fans pulling for the New York locals at Madison Square Garden, St. John’s raced to a 75-62 victory in a thrilling comeback, with the 15-point comeback marking the Red Storm’s largest comeback in their 41 years in the Big East Tournament.
The defeat marks the last game of Allen’s, senior guard Jagan Mosely’s, senior forward George Muresan’s and possibly Yurtseven’s college careers. Yurtseven still has one more year of eligibility should he choose to use it.
Mosely had become a staple of the Hoyas this season, playing by far the most minutes of anyone on the team at an average of 34.8 minutes per game and starting all 32 games this season. Each of the seniors played a large role in keeping Georgetown’s season afloat amid injuries and transfers.
The result of Wednesday’s game is now far less important than it seemed at the time. St. John’s was at halftime in its second-round game against Creighton (24-7, 13-5 Big East) on Thursday, March 12, when the rest of the game was called off and the crowd was escorted out because of concerns about the coronavirus. It has since been announced that the entire Big East Tournament is canceled, as the Big East joins all but one other conference in ending its tournament. Furthermore, the NCAA has canceled all remaining winter and spring championships, including March Madness.
In what has certainly been a tumultuous and unprecedented season for the Hoyas and for college basketball, Georgetown now enters its off-season to prepare for another run at the NCAA Tournament, from which it has been absent since the 2014-15 season.