Lubick and Whittington lead Hoyas past St. John’s, 71-61
The Georgetown men’s basketball team rebounded nicely from Wednesday’s devastating overtime loss to Syracuse with a 71-61 win at the Verizon Center over Big East rival St. Johns. The youthful and unranked Red Storm gave the No. 11 Hoyas quite a scare though, playing a tight first half before narrowing the lead to as little as two points in the second half. Nevertheless, the heavily favored Hoyas pulled away in the final five minutes thanks to a career day defensively from sophomore Nate Lubick and some balanced scoring from the Hoyas’ offense.
The Hoyas needed a balanced attack to scrape past the Red Storm, as the usual suspects struggled to leave their mark on the game. With Henry Sims restricted to just 20 minutes on the court due to foul trouble and Jason Clark shooting a dismal 4-13 on the afternoon, the Hoyas were fueled by the surprisingly assertive and confident play of Greg Whittington, who’s smooth jumper spurred him to a team-high 12 points. Clark, Otto Porter, Hollis Thompson and Markel Starks all scored in double figures to give the Hoyas just enough firepower. Meanwhile, Nate Lubick gobbled up eight boards, dished out five assists and added a career-high 4 blocks on the defensive end, to energize the Hoyas as the Red Storm tried to battle back into the game.
While the promising play of Lubick and Whittington ignited the Hoyas on both ends of the floor, the Red Storm lingered within striking distance of the Hoyas thanks to their own dynamic duo of freshmen De’Angelo Harrison and Moe Harkless. Harkless was everywhere for the Johnnies, using his rare combination of length and quickness to slice his way through the lauded Hoyas’ defense for 20 points. Harrison added a game-high 24 points, including five three pointers which threatened to shift momentum away from the Hoyas. However, St. Johns’ six-man rotation exhausted the fabulous freshmen and subsequently, their shooting tailed off as the game went on. With just 17 points contributed by the rest of the team, the Red Storm had little chance of a comeback against the Hoyas’ balance and depth.
Enduring the Storm
Yet, despite St. Johns’ struggles to find points from the rest of their rotation, Harkless and Harrison had the Red Storm within single-digits of the Hoyas until the final scoreline. As noted by their assistant head coach Mike Dunlap after the game, the Johnnies failed to capitalize on their opportunities to take control of the game. On four separate occasions Harrison connected from downtown to pull St. Johns back in the game, only for the Hoyas to immediately respond with a three-pointer of their own on the next possession. The Hoyas also lucked out as they held onto their lead, despite shooting just 16-24 from the foul-line, struggling especially with the game still up for grabs in the final two minutes.
Though it was not as convincing a win as head coach John Thompson III and the Hoyas would have liked, they move to an impressive (19-5, 9-4 Big East), moving into sole-possession of fourth place in the Big East, despite their loss earlier this week. With just five regular season games left and three of them against sub-.500 teams in the Big East, the Hoyas will look to build momentum for March, as their resume has them nicely positioned for the postseason.