Hoyas use balanced scoring attack to hold off Red Storm

WASHINGTON -- Georgetown's Chris Wright vows this 10-1 start will not go wasted.

Wright scored 21 points, leading No. 13 Georgetown to a 66-59 win over St. John's Thursday night in the Big East opener for both teams.

Last season, the Hoyas won 10 of their first 11 but finished 16-15.

"You keep going back to last year. This is a whole different year," Wright said.

St. John's has had a difficult time in recent years. They've had just one winning season in coach Norm Roberts' first five, but last year they beat Georgetown twice within a week.

Greg Monroe and Austin Freeman each had 15 points for the Hoyas (10-1, 1-0 Big East), who were playing just their third game since Dec. 12, and looked rusty at times. They built a 12-point first-half lead, but repeatedly allowed pesky St. John's (10-3, 0-1) back in the game.

Hoyas coach John Thompson III, whose team lost to Old Dominion on Dec. 19 before beating Harvard four days later, played a rugged, physical opponent, and noticed a marked difference in the tone of the game.

"Once league play starts, you're more familiar with your opponents. They know our personnel. Their guys knows us. We know them," Thompson said. "They know what we're going to do. We know what they're going to do. ... There are no secrets."

Wright was expecting tough play from the Red Storm, and while St. John's was called for 18 fouls to Georgetown's 12, he said that wasn't the entire story.

The 6-foot-11 Monroe, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, was getting roughed up.

"Greg gets beat up. Everybody gets beat up," Wright said. "There's a lot of stuff the refs don't see."

It looked as if Georgetown would have an easy time when Wright scored 12 points in a burst that lasted just over three minutes in the first half. The Hoyas' 18-4 run gave them a 21-10 lead with 11:36 to play in the first half.

Wright and Thompson both claimed they didn't realize he was on another roll, and didn't care if again he had a 30-point game.

"In the course of the game, I'm not sure of who's scoring," Thompson said. "I'm focused on who's getting the right shots. The last game, when he was scoring all those points, I didn't realize it until I was standing in the locker room looking at the stat sheet."

Thompson was more impressed with Wright's outspokenness. During a timeout, the junior guard yelled at his teammates.

"This is a key point. This is a key next four minutes," Wright told them.

The Red Storm took a 51-50 lead on Dwight Hardy's 3-pointer with 9:31 to play. Wright converted on a three-point play to give Georgetown a 53-51 lead, but Hardy hit another 3-pointer to make it 54-53.

Julian Vaughn hit a dunk, Monroe made one of two free throws and a layup and Jason Clark a layup to make it 60-54 with 5:12 left.

The Red Storm had a chance to tie in the final minutes. D.J. Kennedy hit a 3-pointer with 4:29 to play, but Hardy missed a 3-pointer with 3:20 to go and Sean Evans was called for an offensive foul with 2:42 left.

Freeman sealed the game with two free throws with 16.6 seconds remaining to make it 66-59.

St. John's, which shot just 39 percent, was led by Hardy's 14 points. Kennedy had 11 and Justin Brownlee had 10. The Red Storm had lost just twice in their first 12 games -- a nine-point loss to Duke on Dec. 5 and a five-point setback to Cornell on Dec. 21.

"We're beyond the moral victories," Roberts said. "We're capable of hanging with anyone in the country. We're capable of beating anyone in the country."