NEW YORK - St. John’s biggest comeback of the season kept it alive in the Big East Tournament.
Marcellus Earlington scored 10 straight points in a game-ending 23-0 run and St. John’s rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit to beat Georgetown 75-62 on Wednesday night in the first round of the Big East Tournament, ending the Hoyas’ season.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said LJ Figueroa, who led the Red Storm with 22 points. “Coach (Mike Anderson) always emphasizes we’re never out of game. We just go out there, play as hard as we can. I mean, honestly I don’t think anybody knew on the court that we were on a 23-0 run. It just felt like we were out there having fun, and that’s how it’s supposed to feel.”
Earlington scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half and grabbed 10 rebounds as the ninth-seeded Red Storm (17-15) handed eighth-seeded Georgetown (15-17) its seventh straight loss.
“It was a great feeling,” said Earlington, who was averaging 8.7 points. “I work on my shot every day. So it didn’t surprise me as much. And my teammates did a good job of finding me at my spots. I had good spot-up shots. Like I said, it was great to go out there and go on that run.”
The Red Storm, whose previous biggest deficit overcome was 12 in a win over New Hampshire in November, faces top-seeded and No. 7-ranked Creighton in the opener of the quarterfinals Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Terrell Allen led the Hoyas with 22 points, but only three came in the second half. Jamorko Pickett added 13 points and 10 rebounds for Georgetown, which missed its final 10 shots and turned the ball over four times in the final 6:31.
“It still doesn’t feel real, to be honest with you,” Georgetown senior guard Jagan Mosely said. “After their, I guess, 20 — 20-0 run, it kind of still hasn’t hit me that the game ended like that. You never want to go out on a loss. Obviously, 95 to 99% of the teams in college end their careers in losses. But you never want to end it like that.”
This marked the third time in the last four years the teams have met at Madison Square Garden in the opening round of the conference tournament, and St. John’s has won all three games.
Georgetown seemed to be cruising to its third straight win over St. John’s this season when things fell apart late with a 62-52 lead. Figueroa started the decisive run with 3-pointer, Nick Rutherford a layup and then Earlington took over, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, a layup and two free throws to give St. John’s a 67-62 lead.
Goergetown led by nine at the half and opened the margin to 15 early in the second half.
Georgetown shot 54.5% in the first half in taking a 42-33 halftime lead. Allen, whose career-high was 22 points, made up for six turnovers scoring 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Pickett added 11 points, making three 3s.
St. John’s, which hit 48.3% of its 3-pointers in its last three games, was 2 of 13 from long range in the half. Figueroa provided the only consistent offense, scoring 11 points on 4 of 10 shooting.
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