Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Hoyas Run Out to Early Lead Past Sloppy Pirates, Win Third Straight
Coming off of two straight wins over ranked teams, Georgetown seemed at risk of a letdown Wednesday night against Seton Hall. But the Hoyas immediately erased any doubt, stifling an ugly Pirate attack while getting easy baskets in transition to build an early sixteen-point lead. The game firmly in hand, Georgetown coasted to its third straight win while avenging an embarrassing loss from a year ago.
The Pirates apparently left their offense on the bus, opening play with six possessions that consisted of a pair of missed three-pointers and four turnovers. No stranger to early offensive errors, the Hoyas instead connected on seven of their first ten field goals, assisting on all of those made baskets. While Georgetown spread the wealth, Nate Lubick was at the center of much of the action, handing out three early assists, finishing a pair of lay-ins, and contributing on the defensive end to the Pirates' ineptitude. Lubick's second lay-in made the margin 20-4 with more than eight minutes elapsed.
Hoya fans who remember their team's own recent offensive struggles were relieved to see an opponent score four points in eight minutes. And for a while, the game's major drama appeared to be the race between minutes elapsed, Seton Hall turnovers, and Pirate points, which was proceeding roughly in that order.
Then things got a little choppy. All-everything Hoya Otto Porter picked up his second foul, relegating him to the pine for much of the rest of the half. On offense, Georgetown got a bit loose, jacking up heat checks early in the shot clock and tossing lazy passes into willing Pirate hands while netting just three points in six minutes. On the other end, Seton Hall finally started making shots, converting a three-point play and a pair of triples to narrow the gap to just seven.
But that's as dramatic as things got in this blowout. Still enjoying a bit of a cushion and looking to lift the offensive malaise, JTIII even gave some first-half burn to John Caprio. The walk-on and crowd favorite rewarded the rare meaningful action, making a free throw and converting a put-back to push the lead back to fourteen before intermission.
Georgetown began the second half as it did the first, rattling off a 12-2 run that extended the already sizable Hoya lead to 20. In contrast to Caprio's first half cameo, the suspects in the second-half surge were strictly usual. Lubick fed Porter on an in-bound play (you know, one of the two that seem to work more than they should), Markel Starks hit a long jumper then a three, Porter converted a free throw then a triple of his own. The Pirates once again couldn't find the hoop, racking up the turnovers and bricks but scoring just two points over the second half's first five minutes.
The lead eventually ballooned to a very casual 32 points, allowing for plenty of time for JTIII to empty the bench and for me to wonder things like whether Aaron Bowen and John Caprio could star in a buddy cop movie together. (The verdict: probably.)
Porter led all scorers with 20 points--the seventh straight game that he has led the Hoyas in scoring (including Louisville, when he and Starks both notched 17)--while also tallying 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals. And Starks continued to make amends for lackluster play during the South Florida-Notre Dame road trip, pouring in 16 points. Those two continued to power the Hoyas offense, particularly from three, where they made 6 of 9 and the rest of the team shot just 2 of 10.
The lopsided results also led to some unusual details in the box score. Caprio tied a career high with four points, whiffing on several free throws that could have pushed him into rarefied air. He also tied D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (11 points) for the team lead with 6 rebounds. DSR's rebounds and defense (3 steals) were particularly welcome, given his struggles with shooting (3 of 9 FGs) and ball-handling (3 TOs). And, not to bury the lede, but David Allen notched his first points as a Hoya, first netting a free-throw then canning a triple.
While there was plenty of praise due to a business-like Hoyas performance, Seton Hall's overall lousiness deserves at least as much blame. Seton Hall shot just 32 percent from the field and turned the ball over an awful 25 times. Georgetown's renewed use of the press caused many of those miscues, but several other errors were unforced, as four different Pirates committed five turnovers apiece. And they couldn't seem to keep their mitts off your Hoyas, committing an egregious 29 fouls that extended the game well after the result was determined.
The game wasn't all good news. Georgetown's offense outside of Porter and Starks wasn't great, though Lubick (8 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists) continued to provide high efficiency and moderate volume. Georgetown's offense generally has been helped of late by funneling shots to its most useful players, but the Hoyas still don't have much to lean on when either Porter or Starks is off. And the Hoyas' free throw shooting was an errant 18 of 32, serving as a reminder of their early-season struggles from the line.
But those are thoughts for a gloomier day. Tonight, the Hoyas gave the business to a conference opponent, getting an easy win when they needed one. The victory was Georgetown's five in six games without Greg Whittington, a continued surprised for even the most delusional among us.
Another must-win awaits Saturday, when a St. John's squad that Georgetown embarrassed in New York will come to town hungry for revenge. In the meantime, savor this blowout, and Hoya Saxa.