It was a game that had a feel of the old Big East and St. John’s came away with the 74-73 win over Georgetown on Wednesday at MSG.
The Red Storm led 59-55 with 8:35 left when Amar Alibegovic committed a flagrant foul on L.J. Peak. Tempers flared between the players and then 32 years to the day after Georgetown beat St. John’s in the Big East title game, Chris Mullin and John Thompson III went at it, and Mullin and Hoya assistant Patrick Ewing Jr. we’re given technical fouls.
The Red Storm held on for an emotional win when Marcus Derrickson missed a follow up shot at the buzzer
Mullin and Ewing Jr. shared a few words in the postgame handshake line. “I asked if he was gonna beat me up like his father did,” Mullin said to laughter in the postgame press conference. “He said, ‘no, I love you.’ So I said ok. He was on the trip with us in Barcelona when he was a little baby.”
Freshman guard Shamorie Ponds acknowledged that Mullin educated his team on the rivalry which culminated in St. John’s and Georgetown meeting in the 1985 Final Four. “He definitely talks about it a lot,” said Ponds, who scored a team-high 17 points. “This is a big rivalry, so we just wanted to come out and get it done.”
The Madison Square Garden crowd was already into the game, but the excitement, and surprise of the coaches being separated, had the fans pumped up and thinking of the heyday of the conference.
“It was a big time win for us,” said Malik Ellison, who scored 11 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. “Obviously, there’s been a huge rivalry over the last 40 years and it was great that we came together as a team and we got the victory.”
Lost in the shuffle of the rivalry talk was the Red Storm winning a game in the Big East tournament for the first time since 2011. “It was a lot of emotion, so I just love games like that, so when the crowd is going, and both teams are playing physical, I just live for moments like that,” Ponds said.