If I had a dollar for every time a commentator, writer, or pundit said something along the lines of "It's a battle in the Big East every night; there are no guaranteed wins," I would have been able to pay this semester's tuition. But it's true, and your Georgetown Hoyas proved it with yet another heart attack-inducing win over DePaul. This one would have been a blowout had it not been for the Hoyas' most consistent problem of the season—defending the three pointer.
DePaul hit nine three pointers, including five off the bench from Forrest Robinson. It was raining both outside and inside because of it, but Georgetown was still able to endure thanks to a great team performance. As he often does, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way with 19 points and really seemed to be putting the team on his back at points. Smith-Rivera made his first three three pointers and seemed to be feeling it from the field early on when very little else was working offensively for the Hoyas. Joshua Smith also put in a very impressive performance, bouncing back with 15 points and 11 rebounds while dominating the low post.
Another big issue that cropped up for Georgetown was the turnover. There were points in this game where it looked like the Hoyas were using a ball covered in butter. Passes were sailing high, falling short, and being deflected out of bounds. Adding to the inability to handle the ball, there were multiple occasions where the Hoyas could not even grab rebounds and would just keep deflecting the ball up in the air until DePaul recovered it.
This game just kept going back and forth. Every Hoyas run would be answered by another DePaul run fueled by a three-point barrage. But there were a few key plays that seemed to be game changers. Aaron Bowen's alley-oop slam-and-one opportunity brought the crowd out of its seat. I thought they were about to stop the game to watch it over. It was phenomenal. All that was missing was Kenny Smith shouting "It's Over!" (jump to 0:25). If you ever have two points in a game, that would be the way to get them. The other big game changer, the one that sealed the deal, was Tre Campbell, with more ice in his veins than there was on the streets of downtown DC, swishing two huge free throws to lock up the win. Again, these were Campbell's only two points, but they were key at the end.
Another shout-out goes to Isaac Copeland for doing a little bit of everything out there. He chipped in 12 points, 7 rebounds, and a team-leading 4 assists. The Hoyas' defensive unit also deserves some credit, because although it struggled mightily with guarding the three pointer, it still kept DePaul's nominal star Billy Garrett Jr. to only 8 points on 2-13 shooting.
But arguably the biggest difference maker in this game was the crowd. Props to Hoya Blue for reminding students that, in most cases, this will be the last home game opportunity of the season due to the Seton Hall game coming at the start of spring break. The crowd was large, filling out most of the lower bowl on both sides, and loud too despite the weather making the trip down from the Hilltop a treacherous one. It worked together, producing consistently loud chants that were hopefully audible on TV. The crowd spent a lot of time haranguing the referees, although with some of the calls that they made, they unfortunately deserved it. Another helping factor was that some very willing participants joined me for the second half. One student wearing a majestic kilt asked to join me down low. Since there were seats left open, I invited him to join and he and his friends provided some extra enthusiasm. I promised the camera would come to us, and it gladly obliged.
The student section got even more fired up in the last five minutes of the game, with a loud and clear "Hoya Saxa" chant resonating through the Verizon Center. But it was Billy Garrett Jr.'s pair of missed free throws that got the place loudest, since it meant that all fans got free Chick-Fil-A. Honestly, they should give out one free sandwich for every pair of missed free throws throughout the game, since that promotion does an excellent job of getting fans to get loud. In this case, it helped make a bit of a difference.
Even if it was terrifying and occasionally ugly, a win is a win. The Hoyas expunged the Blue Demons and extended their winning streak to three games. This was a very losable game for Georgetown but they still made it out on top. I still don't know if I will be back for the Seton Hall game, depending on my spring break plans, but this could have been my last regular season game at the Verizon Center this season. If this has indeed been the last one, then it has been a pleasure providing my view of these games here. I will be back next year and might try my hand at writing in the offseason, but I'm expecting to write at least one more of these pieces later next month from a location to be determined (wink wink, nudge nudge.)
Hoya Saxa! Beat St. John's, Butler, and Seton Hall!