NEW YORK — At the press conference after St. John’s’ victory on Wednesday night, guard Shamorie Ponds brought out a white hat with the letters “TMC” emblazoned on the front, apparently an homage to the dynamic basketball trio that his head coach was a part of with the Golden State Warriors in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Funny enough, two-thirds of that trio, Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond, were present tonight, both coaches with the Red Storm and Mullin being the head coach. In the game tonight, Ponds hi his best impersonation of Tim Hardaway.
Ponds scored 26 points – 16 in the first half – to help lead the Red Storm to an 88-77 victory over the Georgetown Hoyas in the first round of the 2018 Big East Tournament. St. John’s advances to the quarterfinals tomorrow afternoon, where it will take on top-seeded Xavier.
Though down by six at halftime, the Red Storm were energized right before the intermission with a couple of alley-oop dunks involving guard Justin Simon and forward Tariq Owens, with each being the provider once and being the finisher one time.
“I mean, that [alley-oop] definitely gave the team a little spark,” said Red Storm guard Justin Simon, who had 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. “We fed off that and went on a little run. And the second half, like Coach said, we just stepped up defensively and just got more aggressive and rebounded the ball.”
The second half saw the Red Storm hold the Hoyas to 8-of-31 shooting (25.8 percent) as Georgetown made just three of their 17 three-point attempts in the final 20 minutes.
“At halftime I tried everything — we played zone and full-court press and we just weren’t playing defense,” said St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin. “And they flipped the switch at halftime and did a much better job.”
The frontcourt duo of Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson combined for 48 of the Hoyas’ 77 points, with Govan going for 28 with 11 rebounds.
In the doubleheader nightcap, Marquette squeezed by DePaul 72-69, with guard Andrew Rowsey scoring 25 points, including four three-pointers.
DePaul was led by the 22 points of center Marin Maric and forward Max Strus, and Strus missed a three-pointer with three seconds to go which would have given the Blue Demons, who were once down 14 points, the lead and possibly the victory.