NEW YORK — Shamorie Ponds returned from an abdominal strain and scored 26 points and ninth-seeded St. John’s took over in the second half to beat ninth-seeded Georgetown 88-77 in the first round of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday night.
Marvin Clark II scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half and the Red Storm (16-16) beat the Hoyas (15-15) in the first round for the second straight year. It also was St. John’s first win over Georgetown in three games this season and its sixth win in nine games overall.
Justin Simon added 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals as the Red Storm advanced to a quarterfinal game against top-seeded Xavier on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Tariq Owens had 13 points.
Jessie Govan had 28 points and 11 rebounds for Georgetown, but only eight points came in the second half. Marcus Derrickson added 20 points for the Hoyas, who have lost five in a row.
St. John’s won this one with its shooting and defense. It shot 53 percent from the field for the game and held Georgetown to 26 percent in the second half.
Down six at the half, St. John’s took the lead for good when Owens scored in the lane to snap a 59-all tie and ignite an 8-0 run that ended with a basket and free throw by Ponds and a three-point play by Simon for a 67-59 lead with 9:11 to go.
The closest Georgetown got the rest of the way was five points.
The game was not a typical Big East postseason game. There was little defense as both teams went up and down the court with the Hoyas taking a 48-42 halftime lead with Govan scoring 20 points. Ponds had 13 for the Red Storm.
St. John’s: Faces top-seeded Xavier in the opening quarterfinal on Thursday. The Red Storm lost both regular-season games.
Georgetown: Have to hope for an NIT bid or wait for next season.