As poorly as St. John's shot in the second half -- and 29.6 percent is pretty hard to overcome -- there was a moment in the Red Storm's 69-49 loss to No. 11 Georgetown when it seemed Moe Harkless might take over the game and lead an improbable upset Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Harkless scored six straight points to ignite a 10-2 Red Storm burst that cut the Hoyas' lead to 48-45 with 6:36 left.
"It's hard living when your field-goal percentage consistently is below 35 percent," Red Storm assistant coach Mike Dunlap said. "But even in a game like this, we reeled the crowd back in with our defensive flair and getting after people. We neutralized their inside game for the most part."
But when Harkless fouled out with 5:15 left after the Hoyas pushed their lead back to nine points, he took the Red Storm's offense with him. Georgetown finished the game on a 21-4 run for a runaway Big East victory led by Hollis Thompson, who scored all 20 of his points in the second half.
Harkless finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double in the past 10 games, but Sir'Dominic Pointer was the only other teammate in double figures with 12 points. D'Angelo Harrison, who came in as the leading scorer for St. John's (8-9, 2-4), managed only five points in a 1-for-12 shooting performance, and the Red Storm was 0-for-10 from three-point range.
"Every game, there comes a point where me or D'Angelo has to take over, especially in a game like this when we were on the comeback," Harkless said. "Unfortunately, things didn't work out today. D'Angelo wasn't really making shots, but we told him to keep shooting."
St. John's did a good job defensively in the first half, holding the Hoyas (14-3, 4-2) to 31- percent shooting as Georgetown took a 25-19 halftime lead. Thompson was 0-for-6 from the field, but in the second half, he went 7-for-7 as Georgetown shot 55.2 percent. Jason Clark added 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Hoyas, who also got 13 points and 10 rebounds from freshman Otto Porter.
Dunlap compared it to the Red Storm's loss last week at Marquette in which St. John's led by one at halftime but let Darius Johnson-Odom score 18 of his 20 in the second half.
"In the second half, Hollis Thompson got free on us, and that made a huge difference," said Dunlap, who is running things for the Red Storm while Steve Lavin recuperates from prostate cancer surgery. "We tried to climb up that hill one more time, and it was an incredible effort by our guys."
Without Harkless on the floor at the end, it was curtains for St. John's. "A couple of the fouls I got, I didn't think were fouls," Harkless said. "The refs have a good way of letting you know how the game is going to be played with their whistle."