While a Tuesday night right in the heart of every student's busy season near the end of the semester makes it difficult for many students to attend, fortunately the Georgetown Hoyas showed up against Maryland-Eastern Shore, cruising to a 68-49 win. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera broke out after a seemingly slow start to the season, putting up 30 points on 10-16 shooting, including five three-pointers. Bradley Hayes was the only other Hoya in double-figures, scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds to fall just short of a double-double. While the Hoyas let what was once a 21-point lead erode to 11 at the under-8 timeout, the Hoyas improved their shooting and also drew most of their fouls in the last few minutes to put the game away.
The first half saw the Hoyas slowly but steadily build a lead that they held onto from wire-to-wire, as both DSR and Marcus Derrickson connected from downtown early in the first half. Between their three-point shooting, a few impressive drives to the hoop from Reggie Cameron, and Hayes' proficiency in the low post, the Hoyas succeeded in doing enough offensively. The defense also looked quite good in the first twenty minutes apart from a few open looks and second chance points for the Hawks. The Hoyas had a lead that fluctuated between eight and eleven points for most of the first half, but a nice run to end the half, including back-to-back threes from DSR, allowed the Hoyas to head to the locker room with an 18-point advantage.
In the second half, the Hoyas offense slowed as MD-Eastern Shore played a zone defense. While this may not bode well against Syracuse, the Hoyas were able to hold on thanks to some solid defense of their own. The Hoyas also struggled with turnovers, coughing the ball up ten times in the first twelve minutes of the second half and 16 times in total, but also forced the Hawks into 19 turnovers of their own. In the last eight minutes of the game, however, the Hoyas forced their way to the free throw line, taking 15 free throws and making 14 of them. This helped lock the game up for the Hoyas and give them a much-needed win to pull them to an even .500 on the year.
As for the crowd, there's not much you can do about a Tuesday night right at the end of the semester. Some people have downtime during this time of year, but many others do not. By my estimate, about 100 students turned up, maybe a few more. Not much you can do when people are already in finals mode. But major credit to the crowd who turned up. It consisted of the regulars, the fans who attended every game, and the lack of other sources of noise guaranteed that players could hear everything quite clearly. The fans on the other side took to singing something during second half free throws, but it was hard to make out from the side of the court where I was.
Some of the Hoya Blue staff in the row next to me were reminding Hawks forward Dominique Elliott about his recent breakup and poked fun at Hawks guards Mark Blackmon and Thomas Rivera for looking shorter than their listed 5'11" and 5'9" heights, respectively. As someone who can't really make fun of others for being short (I'm 5'8" on a good day), I took to reminding Hawks forward Bakari Copeland, who scored zero points, that he was not as good as the Hoyas' own Isaac Copeland (who, for the record, also had zero points.) Other fans had taken to calling Hawks guard Ahmad Frost "Frosty," so I followed up by asking the bespectacled guard if he wore goggles to protect his "two eyes made out of coal" while wondering where his corn cob pipe and button nose went.
Meanwhile, I had a unique opportunity bestowed on me for tonight's game. While waiting on line with a few fellow early arrivals about an hour and a half before game time, a man approached us informing us that he could not attend tonight's game and had tickets. While we expected him to try to sell them, he gave them to us free of charge, telling us they were in the "Player's Club." No, not Ice Cube's directorial debut, but a fairly exclusive club on the Verizon Center suite level. After enjoying dinner up there and taking in the view with the others who received the tickets, I returned to the student section, but made sure to return to it at the end of the game to celebrate the victory in style and slow clap from my comfy chair, drink in the adjacent cup holder. In addition, I had the honor of meeting blog regular "GT8MD" for the first time. Always a pleasure to meet fellow blog regulars, especially when it comes during an easy win.
Now, on to Syracuse. I happen to know that there are a range of events, flyers, and banners on campus reminding people about the game and about why Syracuse is so terrible (a necessary move considering that seniors are the only undergraduate students who were on campus for the last time the two teams played.) Many students are planning on arriving early Saturday and there appears to be high demand for tickets from students who do not have season ticket plans. The crowd should be huge and the atmosphere should be great. Can't wait to see the Hoyas juice Cuse.