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A rally to remember: Storm stuns Georgetown

The St. John’s University men’s basketball team rallied from a 16-point deficit with 7:23 remaining in the second half to upset the Georgetown Hoyas, 77-72, Saturday afternoon at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C.

Marcus Hatten, who was held in check most of the game by the Hoyas’ Gerald Riley, led the furious comeback, scoring 19 points over the final 6:21, including the go-ahead basket, with 1:24 remaining, off a steal by teammate Anthony Glover.

Riley fouled out of the game during the Red Storm’s run, allowing Hatten to run rampant on the stunned Georgetown team, scoring 14 straight during a three-minute stretch that saw the Hoyas’ six-point lead completely disappear.

“I’d rate this up there with any conference victory I’ve ever had,” said St. John’s head coach Mike Jarvis. “This puts us right back in the hunt for a lot of things.”

For the better part of the second half, St. John’s (9-5, 2-2) seemed to have left the building. After playing the Hoyas to a 35-35 tie after the first half, the Red Storm came out flat for the second half, as Georgetown, led by big-man Mike Sweetney, began to run away with it.

After Hatten opened the scoring in the second half at 19:28, the Hoyas scored 10 of the next 12 points, led by 5 points from Sweetney, to grab a 45-39 advantage at the 15:11 mark. A three by Red Storm freshman point guard Elijah Ingram only stemmed the tide briefly.

Georgetown (9-4, 1-2) ripped off 12 straight points to push the lead to 15, 57-42, and stretched it to 16 moments later. But that’s when St. John’s, and Hatten in particular, came alive.

Playing before a large hometown crowd, Hatten, a Baltimore native, turned on the afterburners at 6:20, converting the conventional three-point play. Fueled by the team’s full-court press, the senior’s next basket 15 seconds later pulled SJU with 11 with 6:05 to go.

Willie Shaw then converted back-to-back three-point plays to cut the lead to nine with 3:54 left before Ingram nailed a three at 3:35 and Hatten scored again at 3:17 to make the score 67-63.

The best was still to come. Following two free throws by Sweetney to push the lead back to six, Hatten scored a bucket at 2:38, hit 1-of-2 from the line at 2:31 and then drilled an NBA three from the top of the key with 2:02 showing on the clock to knot the game at 69-all.

Victor Samnick hit 1-of-2 from the charity strip to briefly give the Hoyas back the lead, but when Kyle Cuffe and Anthony Glover forced a bad pass from Sweetney, Hatten intercepted the ball at midcourt and drove the length of the floor for 2 points to complete the comeback with 1:24 remaining.

Georgetown’s sinking ship took on more water when the Hoyas failed to convert on their next possession and Hatten scored again to make the score 73-70 with just 35 seconds remaining in regulation.

Drew Hall’s two free throws closed the gap to one, but Hatten countered with two of his own. Ingram and Cuffe each hit a free throw apiece to ice the game in the waning moments.

“Hatten really caused us some problems in the half-court, and also defensively,” Hoyas coach Craig Esherick said. “We could not handle their full-court pressure.”

Hatten finished with 34 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals. Ingram was the only other Red Storm member in double figures with 12 points, adding 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Contributions came from all members of the team, as Tristan Smith continued to show improvement and was a key element of the press late, netting 4 steals, 2 assists and a block. Grady Reynolds had his best day with St. John’s, scoring 7 points but grabbing 10 rebounds. Glover had 8 rebounds and 4 points in the win.

Sweetney led Georgetown with 21.

The Hoyas out-rebounded the Johnnies, 42-39, went to the line 22 more times and registered 13 blocks. But in the end, it all came down to which team had Hatten.

The Red Storm has a week to enjoy the win before taking to the road again to take on Virginia Tech Saturday at 2 p.m.

Villanova 82, St. John’s 73. Hatten scored 24 and Glover added 20, but a late St. John’s rally came up just short on Jan. 15, as the Red Storm dropped its second Big East Conference game. Randy Foye had 20 and Ricky Wright added 19 for the Wildcats.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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