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Georgetown Runs Away from LaSalle, 93-78

Hoyas counter Explorers’ offense with even more offense in up-and-down, foul-riddled win.

NCAA Basketball: La Salle at Georgetown Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Georgetown turned in its best mainland performance of the young season Saturday, out scoring a talented LaSalle bunch 93-78 thanks to hot shooting and a tightly called game that saw the teams combine to make more free throws than field goals. LJ Peak topped four Hoyas in double figures with 24 points, leading the Hoya parade to the free-throw line by making 12 free throws. The win, Georgetown’s fourth straight, showed lots of positive signs heading into next weekend’s showdown against Syracuse, but some areas for improvement as well.

This game was pretty from the perspective of the victors, but pretty ugly for basketball aesthete. The two teams were called for a combined 58 fouls and attempted a total of 76 free throws. The constant whistles affected the quality of play as stars from both teams spent time on the pine with foul trouble, and also the game’s rhythm, which slowed to a crawl.

But it was clear from the tip that Georgetown wanted to force the action, and the fouls called against LaSalle proved that the Hoyas succeeded in that regard. Peak and Rodney Pryor (19 points, 4 rebounds) slashed to the rim, while Jessie Govan (18 points, 6 rebounds) and Marcus Derrickson (9 points, 8 rebounds) took turns carving out space in the post.

The Hoyas were not content to just fire away from deep, as they have too often this season. After averaging more than 24 three-point attempts over the course of a middling three-game home stand, Georgetown tried just 12 treys against LaSalle, getting high-percentage looks at the rim and at the line.

The Hoyas’ few attempts from deep generally went in, thanks to three made triples from Pryor and another three, improbably, from guard Jagan Mosely. The freshman point came into the game struggling from beyond the arc, having connected on just 1 of 12 shots and averaging a mere 3.4 points per contest. Saturday was easily the best game of the young Hoya’s career, as Mosely compiled a line of 14 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals while playing 30 minutes and the bulk of the second half. Going further, Mosely played the best game by any of Georgetown’s three point guards this season, and it’s easy to see how much better the Hoyas can be if any of that trio can reliably play like a starter.

For much of the game, Georgetown’s defense was as bad as its offense was good. The Hoyas fouled too often, gave up too many easy looks at the rim, and were too slow to rotate to open shooters. Georgetown’s press was ineffective early, and its vanilla 2-3 zone was too porous for LaSalle’s skilled perimeter players. Midway through the second half, Georgetown had yielded 64 points on 57 possessions, and despite a potent day offensively, held just a three-point lead.

That all changed when the Hoyas shifted into a man-to-man defense with a Mosely-Pryor-Peak-Derrickson-Govan lineup that held the Explorers to just 14 points on the game’s final 18 possessions. (Akoy Agau, who had 6 points and 2 rebounds in 18 minutes, also saw action down the stretch.) With Georgetown in man coverage, LaSalle found it harder to free up perimeter shooters and to cut freely along the baseline. As a result, the Explorers made just 2 of their last 9 shots from the field and turned the ball over 3 times in the game’s final minutes. The Hoyas then put the game away at the line, where they made a gaudy 36 of 43 attempts on the day.

Georgetown’s four-game winning streak has seen ups and downs, with the Hoyas turning in subpar performances against Elon and Howard but impressive wins over lowly Coppin State and a very solid LaSalle team. Those uneven performances make it difficult to discern too much about how good this team will be.

Playing time may be easier to figure out. JT3 likely will continue to lean very heavily on Peak (39 minutes on Saturday) and Pryor (32 minutes per game on the season) on the wings while Derrickson, Govan, and Agau all see extensive time up front. Mosely and Tre Campbell have had their moments, but point guard and big man play continue to be the greatest variables between a mediocre season and a good one. Isaac Copeland, who didn’t play on Saturday despite suiting up, remains a mystery.

The Hoyas return home for a week of exams and practice before a trip next weekend to play hated Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. Playing the Orange in a hostile environment likely will be the Hoyas’ biggest test to date. Today should given them some small degree of confidence that they can pass it.