No. 12 Georgetown holds off St. John’s 71-61
WASHINGTON (AP)—Double digits. Georgetown freshman Greg Whittington got there for the first time. St. John’s did, too, becoming the first team in the nation to lose 10 games to Top 25 teams this season.
Single digits. Georgetown’s Nate Lubick had an impressive line of them: seven points, eight rebounds, five assists and a career-high four blocks.
Single digits were also where the 12th-ranked Hoyas were stuck lead-wise in Sunday’s 71-61 win over the Red Storm. Georgetown never trailed, but its lead didn’t hit 10 points until there were 3 seconds to play.
With Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson drawing the bulk of the attention from St. John’s defense, Whittington’s scoring and Lubick’s hustle were key down the stretch as Georgetown (19-5, 9-4 Big East) recovered from an overtime loss at No. 2 Syracuse on Wednesday.
Whittington’s 12 points set the pace for the Hoyas, who shot 61 percent in the second half and moved into sole possession of fourth place in the conference.
“Coach mentioned to us before the game, talking about how people were still praising us after a loss,” Lubick said. “That’s something that we can’t look at. We needed to bounce back fast, and that’s how you do well in this league. To come out and grit out a big win was important.”
Clark, Markel Starks and Otto Porter all scored 11 points, and Thompson had 10, but Clark was 4 for 13 from the field and Thompson took only six shots.
Enter Whittington, who hit one of the big 3-pointers late in the game to answer St. John’s momentum. And Lubick, who blocked Moe Harkless’ shot at one end, then set up a three-point play by Clark that gave the Hoyas a nine-point lead with 3:14 to play.
Whittington and Lubick combined to go 8 for 11 from the field and were playing so well that coach John Thompson III kept both in the game late, when they would usually be on the bench. Lubick’s 27 minutes matched the most he’s played in a Big East game this season.
“I thought he made the hustle plays,” the coach said. “His effort was very good, and we needed it.”
D’Angelo Harrison scored 24 points, and Harkless had 20 for the Red Storm (10-15, 4-9), who fell to a nation’s-worst 0-10 against Top 25 teams. St. John’s, which lost its previous two games by a combined 47 points, is 2-3 with its new “Fresh Five” starting lineup featuring five freshmen.
“We really took a step forward after reeling off of a couple games,” said St. John’s assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who is running the team while head coach Steve Lavin recovers from prostate cancer surgery. “Our talk to our players was very upbeat.”
Every time the Hoyas threatened to pull away, the Red Storm found a way to stay close. A 15-7 lead became 15-14 after two dunks and a 3-pointer, and St. John’s cut into a 31-26 halftime deficit by forcing a turnover and turning it into 2-on-1 break capped by an alley-oop pass from Amir Garrett to Harkless.
The Red Storm had consecutive possessions with a chance to tie, but Phil Greene missed a 3-pointer with 8:48 remaining and lost the ball to Clark with 8:14 to go, a turnover that was converted into a falling-down reverse layup by Hollis Thompson to make it 49-44.
“This group doesn’t get rattled,” John Thompson said. “This was a game I think that a group could easily get rattled because of their defense, because you don’t know how you’re going to get your shots, and because early on we missed shots.”
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP.