March 8, 2018 / 2:42 AM / 5 months ago

St. John's downs Georgetown in Big East tourney opener

Shamorie Ponds scored 26 points, and Marvin Clark II made big plays down the stretch to lead St. John’s past Georgetown 88-77 Wednesday in the opening round of the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden.

St. John’s advances to face No. 3 Xavier on Thursday in the quarterfinal round. The Red Storm lost both regular-season meetings with the Musketeers, the top seeds in the Big East tournament.

The two regular-season meetings between Georgetown and St. John’s were decided by a combined seven points, with the Hoyas coming out on top in both games. Wednesday’s rematch was just as close until the final six minutes, when Clark heated up.

Clark scored seven of his 16 points in the final six minutes to help St. John’s (16-16) pull away.

Jessie Govan finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and Marcus Derrickson scored 20 points for the Hoyas (15-15), who have lost their last five games in coach Patrick Ewing’s first season on the sidelines.

Jonathan Mulmore and Antwan Walker hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give Georgetown its biggest lead of the first at 30-20 with 8:38 left before halftime.

Clark hit a 3-pointer, and Tariq Owens hit a layup to close out the first half and cut Georgetown’s lead to 48-42 at halftime.

Govan, who was coming off a 30-point game against Villanova, had 20 of his points in the first half Wednesday.

The teams went back and forth early in the second half, before the Red Storm made a run. Justin Simon capped an 8-0 streak with a three-point play on a layup and free throw to give the Red Storm a 67-58 lead with nine minutes to play. Simon finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Under coach Chris Mullin, St. John’s lost its first 11 Big East games of the season, before turning things around with a four-game win streak that was highlighted by back-to-back upsets of then-No. 4 Duke and then-No. 1 Villanova.

Ponds had missed the two previous games with an abdominal strain, but returned Wednesday to help St. John’s stay alive in the Big East tournament.

—Field Level Media

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