- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2004

NEW YORK — Georgetown’s basketball program keeps reaching new depths.

With current New York Knicks and former Hoyas Mike Sweetney, Othella Harrington and Dikembe Mutombo sitting courtside, Georgetown embarrassed itself last night in front of some of the school’s basketball legends.

A shorthanded St. John’s team, rocked by scandal and comprised of walk-ons and quasi-skilled scholarship players, won its first Big East game of the season by shocking the lethargic Hoyas 65-58 before 6,192 at Madison Square Garden.

“I thought there were times in the game where we did not take them seriously as a team, and I thought that hurt us,” Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said.

By losing to the hapless Red Storm (6-16, 1-10 Big East), the Hoyas (13-9, 4-7 Big East) were serving notice that they might not win another regular-season game with five tough opponents to play. If that becomes the scenario, the Hoyas would finish 13-14 and need to win their first Big East tournament game just to become NIT eligible — a stretch in every sense of the imagination.

“We can win against [future opponents] even though we lost this one that we should not have lost,” Hoyas senior co-captain Gerald Riley said.

This season only one of Georgetown’s victories has been against a team with a winning record.

St. John’s took the court with five scholarship players and four walk-ons after starters Grady Reynolds, Abe Keita, Elijah Ingram were kicked off the team or withdrew from school following a Feb.4 incident in a Pittsburgh hotel when the players broke curfew, went to a strip club, and brought back a woman to their hotel room for sex and the promise of money.

Red Storm guard Daryll “Showtime” Hill, a cousin of Miami Heat forward Lamar Odom, led all scorers with a career-high 22 points. St. John’s senior forward Kyle Cuffe scored 15 points with nine rebounds. Guard Andre Stanley contributed 13 points.

The Red Storm avoided becoming the third team in the Big East’s 25 seasons to go winless in conference play. Providence went 0-6 during the Big East’s first season in 1979, and Miami went 0-18 in 1993.

When the Red Storm opened the game in a 2-3 zone, the Hoyas were unable to penetrate and trailed 28-24 at halftime. This was only the fourth game this season the Red Storm led at halftime. When the teams met at MCI Center on Jan.20, St. John’s led 36-34 at halftime.

When the half ended last night, Red Storm fans gave their undermanned team a standing ovation.

The Hoyas turned the ball over 11 times, shot 33.3 percent (eight of 24) from the floor and missed all seven 3-pointers.

Riley, Georgetown’s leading scorer at 18.7 points, had a miserable half. He missed all five shots he took, turned the ball over a team-high four times and was scoreless from the floor.

With Riley cold, forward Brandon Bowman led the Hoyas with nine points in the half. Georgetown never seemed focused despite playing in the world’s most famous basketball venue.

The Hoyas finished with a season-high 23 turnovers, Riley went 1-for-9 for a season-low six points, and the Hoyas were beaten on the glass 40 to 38.

“I wouldn’t rank it as it being the worst loss or anything like that,” sophomore point guard Ashanti Cook said. “I wouldn’t rank it as hitting rock bottom — they are a Big East team, too.”

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