Georgetown overcame ice-cold shooting Monday night to grind out a 71-59 win at DePaul. The win is Georgetown's second straight after a five-game losing streak, an encouraging turnaround in a difficult season.
The Hoyas didn't win pretty, shooting just 36 percent from the field and 5 of 17 from beyond the arc. But Georgetown buckled down on defense and bullied its way to the rim on offense, earning 41 free throws and burying a respectable 30 to build and sustain a second-half lead.
Most of that heavy lifting was done by the Hoya guards. Markel Starks scored 26 points despite a frigid 6-of-18 output from the field, instead making hay at the line, where he converted 11 of 14. With DePaul often ditching a full-court press in favor of a half-court, patient zone, Georgetown found open shots few and far between. As a result, Starks had to settle for a number of poor shots, whether contested looks near the rim or iffy propositions from mid-range. Still, the senior earned trips to the line and largely converted them. And, Starks's percentages hardly seem to be an indictment of him personally when the lack of offensive firepower elsewhere on the roster forces him to shoulder so much of the offensive burden.
Also off from the field but sharp from the stripe was D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. In the first half, the sophomore guard continued to suffer from an undefined malady that has affected his jump shooting. Maybe it's a rib injury suffered at Creighton, maybe it's just a lack of confidence sustained by a cold shooting streak. After the half, DSR found his stroke on a series of long, difficult jumpers inside the arc and, as always, was money from the free-throw line, where he made all 11 of his attempts to finish with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and, surprisingly, a pair of blocks.
And the best story line of the evening was a third Hoya guard, Jabril Trawick. Fresh off a game-clinching pair of field goals in Saturday's win over Michigan State, Trawick was at his energetic best Monday, slashing to the rim, earning trips to the line, cutting through the lane, and even burying an open three-pointer en route to 15 points. Trawick has played well since returning from a broken jaw, injecting much-needed offense to the Hoya rotation.
Mostly, though, this game was defined by the misses. After a first-half DePaul lead ballooned to nine, Georgetown soon narrowed the gap, making for a nip-and-tuck affair. The teams traded long stretches of ineptitude, coughing the ball up, exchanging ill-advised hacks, or just hoisting brick after eye-gouging brick. For over three minutes in the second half, neither team scored, making the inaction the court mirror the near-emptiness of the stands in Allstate Arena.
Once the scoring started again, the Hoyas began to pull away. First Georgetown received the rare antidote known as an Aaron Bowen three, which broke the scoring drought and the game's last tie. Then, Trawick poured in seven straight Hoya points, the last on an open triple that, with Bowen's three, gave Georgetown needed outside shooting on a night when DSR and freshman gunner Reggie Cameron both came up empty from deep. DePaul was still lingering with just under 8 minutes remaining, when the Hoya guards put the game away with a 10-point run that was highlighted by a vicious Starks fake, step-back, and calmly buried three-pointer.
Even as Georgetown's lead swelled to double digits, disaster loomed late as each of the three Hoya big men fouled on in succession. Some of these whistles were just hazards of paint protection, and Nate Lubick in particular was assessed a number of ticky-tack fouls. But Moses Ayegba's fourth and fifth foul were egregious errors, in large part because Lubick and Mikael Hopkins already had been disqualified. Ayegba's fourth--committed 90 feet from the basket, with 3:13 remaining and Georgetown up 11, by reaching over DePaul guard Billy Garrett while the Blue Demons were in the bonus--revealed a galling unawareness of or indifference to the circumstances of the game. Even so, a couple minutes of Cameron at center didn't end up affecting the final result, as the Hoya guards iced the game at the line.
Georgetown has managed two wins in as many tries on the road. Saturday, against an elite but depleted Michigan State squad, the Hoyas injected new life into a season that was slipping away. Monday, they ground out a workmanlike but still double-digit road win over a conference foe. The Hoyas now return home with a chance to return to .500 if they hold serve against Butler and Providence at the Phone Booth.