So it turns out Georgetown didn't give up winning for Lent. The Hoyas shook off a six-game losing streak that punctuated their regular season to beat DePaul 70-53 in the opening round of the Big East Tournament Wednesday night. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led Georgetown with 20 points, keying a 16-2 second-half run that put the game out of reach. Bradley Hayes also returned after missing a month with a broken hand to score 10 points in the post, and LJ Peak also chipped in 10 to continue a strong sophomore season.
In sharp contrast to recent losses to better competition, Georgetown led throughout against DePaul. The Hoyas shot a solid 50 percent from the field, which was more than good enough in a sloppy game that saw the teams turn the ball over a combined 33 times. Porous DePaul defense helped, as did deep penetration by Smith-Rivera and Peak and solid post position secured by Hayes and Jessie Govan.
After a few shaky opening possessions, Georgetown grabbed the lead on a DSR three-pointer, one of four treys he made on the evening, and never let go. The Hoyas were careless for much of the first half, turning the ball over 11 times before intermission. But Georgetown still kept a lead by pushing the pace, finding a way to get the ball into the lane on the drive or by feeding the post. Hayes' return was welcome on offense, where he showed off his efficient post arsenal, and coincided with Georgetown's best defensive performance in conference play. Regardless of where the Hoyas go from here, it was good to see both seniors on the floor playing well.
Georgetown led by just 3 with 4 minutes remaining in the break before closing on an 8-0 run to push the halftime lead to 11. And that's basically where the margin stayed. DePaul made a brief run after the half but then Smith-Rivera went to work. The senior guard got buckets as he tends to do, burying a triple, sniffing out an open-court steal that he turned into a lay-in through contact and a casual flex, then canning another trey to put Georgetown up 12. The Hoyas never led by less than double digits again.
The win over the Blue Demons puts Georgetown in a quarterfinal match-up Thursday afternoon against regular season conference champion Villanova, which has beaten the Hoyas twice this season. Today's performance was too loose to feel terribly confident about Hoyas-Wildcats Round 3, but Wednesday at least allowed Georgetown's players to enjoy themselves again after a miserable month of losing. Now, they have to rest up before a very quick turnaround against an old rival.