By Jerry Del Priore
St. John’s Men’s basketball team rewarded former longtime coach Lou Carnescca on his 94th birthday with an electrifying 97-94 overtime win over Georgetown (11-4, 1-1) Saturday afternoon at Capital One Arena.
But it wasn’t easy, as the Red Storm (14-1, 2-1) trailed by five with 52 seconds left to play in regulation after Queens, New York, native Jesse Govan, who led the Hoyas with 25 points and 11 rebounds, made two free throws.
However, Shamorie Ponds sank two free throws with 14 seconds left and LJ Figueroa came up big with a steal and nailed two free throws to knot the tilt with 11.3 seconds to play in regulation. St. John’s issued a defensive stop on the ensuing Georgetown possession to force overtime.
The Red Storm proceeded to begin overtime on a 7-1 run and Ponds connected on one of two shots from the charity stripe to give the Jonnies a 97-94 lead with 23 ticks remaining on the clock.
The Hoyas had it chances down the stretch, but a potential game-tying 3-pointer by James Akinjo missed the rim and Jahvon Blair’s open look shot from the wing bounced out.
St. John’s point guard Ponds drained a game-high 37 points, including six treys. The six-foot-two junior surpassed the 1,500-point mark in the contest, becoming just the 14th player in program history to reach that total.
Justin Simon, who has been coming into to his own of late, enjoyed a solid affair, contributing 14 points, nine boards and six assists in the victory. Figueroa had 11 points, nine rebounds, five assists and a career-high six steals, the last of which helped complete the squad’s comeback in regulation.
Mustapha Heron added 12 points while Marvin Clark II chipped in with 11 and two steals to round out Red Storm’s potent core of double-digit scorers.
The win broke a 13-game Jonnies’ losing streak versus the Hoyas on their home court, dating back to January 13, 2003.
St. John’s travels to Philadelphia Tuesday at 7: 00 p.m. to face defending national champs, Villanova, at Finneran Pavilion.