St. John’s 76, Georgetown 67

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NEW YORK (AP)—St. John’s will not play in the postseason, not even the Big East tournament. Georgetown is looking for its first NCAA tournament bid since 2001.

The team with nothing to play for came up with the big win Sunday.

Daryll Hill scored 20 points and St. John’s rode a strong first half to a 76-67 victory over Georgetown, a loss that could be a severe blow to the Hoyas’ NCAA tournament hopes.

“Every game is a big game. You continue to improve and that is what our guys have to realize,” first-year Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “Regardless of what point of the year it is, our goal and focus is to improve. This is not the time to stay the same and coast.”

Georgetown has three conference games remaining: home against No. 25 Villanova, at No. 18 Connecticut and home versus Providence. The Hoyas had won three of their previous four but probably need to reach 18 wins to have a chance at an at-large bid to the NCAA’s field of 65.

“Every league game has the same importance,” Thompson said. “I can’t say now that we are better this week than we were last week.”

The Red Storm (9-14, 3-10 Big East), who had lost four straight and seven of eight, scored the first eight points of the game and steadily pulled away to a 45-29 lead in one of their best halves of the season.

St. John’s shot 57.7 percent from the field and had a 20-9 rebound advantage in the opening 20 minutes.

“We got out to a lead and that has a lot to do with our defense,” first-year St. John’s coach Norm Roberts said. “We really defended well and then we rebounded the basketball well, a big key for us.”

The Hoyas (16-8, 8-5) used a 10-0 run midway through the second half to get within 56-48, and they were as close as 72-67 in the final minute, but couldn’t overcome the bad start.

Hill, the Big East’s third-leading scorer, matched his average and led six St. John’s players in double figures. Junior reserve Ryan Williams had 13 of his career-high 14 points in a 5 1/2 -minute span of the first half. His third 3-pointer in as many attempts gave the Red Storm a 35-18 lead with 5:48 left before halftime.

“Coach got on me pretty good for not shooting against Seton Hall. I was wide open so I shot,” Williams said.

Roberts said Williams wasn’t looking for his shots.

“He didn’t come into the game saying `I want to make three 3s today,”’ Roberts said. “He came into the game saying `I want to help the team win’ and then the 3s came in the flow of the game.”

Freshman Jeff Green had 20 points for the Hoyas, while Brandon Bowman added 19.

Georgetown, which won the earlier meeting with St. John’s 66-57, was 4-for-21 from 3-point range. The Hoyas, who missed 15 of their first 16 3-point attempts, entered the game shooting 35.3 percent from beyond the arc, fourth-best in the Big East.

Phil Missere had 10 points and 10 rebounds for St. John’s, which finished with a 39-23 advantage on the boards. The Red Storm, which entered the game shooting 67 percent from the free throw line, made their first 16 foul shots Sunday and finished 28-for-33.

“They made us lose this game because of how well they played and things they did,” Thompson said. “We were taking the first outside shot that was open. It may not be a bad shot but we had to get something different.”

St. John’s is not eligible for the Big East tournament because of self-imposed sanctions over possible NCAA violations.

In one week, it will be the 20th anniversary of the Georgetown-St. John’s game at Madison Square Garden, one of most storied college games in the history of the building.

In that game, the second-ranked Hoyas, led by Patrick Ewing, beat No. 1 St. John’s 85-69. The teams would meet two more times, in the Big East tournament championship game and in the semifinals at the Final Four, both Georgetown wins.

This meeting of the two former powers was played before a crowd of 7,464 and was not televised.

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