Back in 2011, new head coach Steve Lavin landed his first recruiting class that consisted of highly talented prospects, Sir’Dominic Pointer, D’Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene. The group has gone through their fare share of ups-and-downs, but through the years they have created an unspeakable bond that has translated to the court.
In their senior seasons, the group is looking to change their legacies forever and they inched closer to the one goal they haven’t achieved yet with a huge 81 to 70 victory against their rivals Georgetown on Senior Day at Madison Square Garden.
“It will be a wonderful feeling if we get in (the NCAA Tournament),” Pointer said. “We have been working hard for this.”
Pointer, 26 points, and Greene, 24 points on six for seven from three, were the leaders for the Johnnies as they attacked Georgetown right from the get go. Harrison, who only played 20 minutes due to foul trouble, only scored one point but did grab a couple of key rebounds and took a charge mid-second half.
Jamal Branch, another senior who was honored on Saturday, had one of his better games of the season, dropping 10 points and only turned it over one time. Chris Obekpa, five points, and Rysheed Jordan, 15 points, also contributed for the Johnnies as they used their athleticism to impact the game.
In the opening half, the Johnnies were able to open up a double-digit lead quickly (14-3 run) despite Harrison picking up his second foul 25 seconds into the game. He remained on the bench for the remainder of the half and wasn’t able to get in a groove when he entered the game in the second frame.
That didn’t stop the Red Storm though. They were up as many as 16 in the second half and every time the Hoyas looked to answer, Greene and Pointer made a huge shot to ignite the home crowd.
The Johnnies only turned the ball over only seven times, shot 36 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and reached the free throw line 13 more times than the Hoyas.
Obekpa was a force in the paint against Josh Smith and Isaac Copeland as he blocked three shots and used his length to force the road team to launch outside shots. The Johnnies’ guards also had effect on the paint play as they went right at Smith, forcing him to commit fouls. The 350-pound big man doesn’t have much agility and Hoyas’ coach John Thompson III credited Steve Lavin’s squad with their solid game plan to keep the big man off the floor for all but eight minutes.
“You have to give St. John’s credit,” Coach Thompson said. “They went at (Josh Smith). They attacked him. That was part of their game plan and they were successful at that.”
The Johnnies still have work to do, with Marquette and Villanova remaining in the regular season, but these seniors look like they are in prime position to reach the Big Dance.