It was Senior Day for Georgetown on Monday, and the Hoyas’ veterans made sure to put on one last great performance for the home crowd. Jason Clark and Henry Sims ended their career at the Verizon Center on a high note, leading the Hoyas to a resounding 59-41 victory over Notre Dame. It was the first time the two seniors beat the Fighting Irish.
The game was a back-and-forth defensive struggle for the first 10 minutes, but the Hoyas found their offensive rhythm midway through the half. Sims was the catalyst as Georgetown pulled away, scoring or assisting on 10 straight points in the closing minutes of the first half. The Hoyas went into the locker room up 28-18.
“That’s what Henry has done all year, that’s what we need him to do,” head coach John Thompson III said. “For most of the year I think he has been very good at balancing when it’s my turn and when to look if someone else is open.”
Sims finished with a well-rounded 13 points, six rebounds, and five assists. He also put an exclamation point on his performance with 4:45 to go in the game, swatting a Jerian Grant layup attempt into the stands.
Clark’s game was a microcosm of his career—an efficient offensive performance paired with an even more impressive defensive effort. The guard scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting (while also pulling down six boards), but Thompson praised him mostly for setting the defensive tone for the Hoyas from the opening tip.
Neither Clark or Sims led the Hoyas in scoring. That honor went to freshman Greg Whittington, who knocked down three corner treys en route to a career-high 15 points. Still, the young forward gave the credit to one of his senior teammates.
“It was because of Sims. Sims had the defense closing in on him, so coach said inside-out,” Whittington said. “Coach just said ‘bang it,’ and I did.”
Notre Dame didn’t threaten in the second half, with Georgetown’s lead never dipping below double digits after the 17-minute mark. The comfortable margin allowed Thompson to give his seniors an early exit, taking Clark and Sims out of the game with 1:43 to go. The duo received a standing ovation from the 14,514 in attendance and a “Thank you seniors” chant from the student section as they gave handshakes and hugs to their teammates and coaches on the bench.
“Four years goes by really fast,” Thompson said. “Both of these guys I think are going to be playing basketball for a very long time, but this is the last time they get a chance to do it in this building, wearing Georgetown. It’s a special day for them.”
Defense doesn’t let up
After a seemingly temporary breakdown against Seton Hall, Georgetown’s defense is back to being one of the best in the Big East, if not the country. Tonight the Hoyas may have played their most formidable defensive game of the season, holding a top-25 team to just 41 points and 33.3 percent shooting.
Georgetown won the rebounding battle handily, holding a 33-23 advantage on the boards. The Hoyas also kept every Notre Dame player under 10 points, including just two points for forward Jack Cooley. Cooley partly defeated himself, playing just 25 minutes with foul trouble, but he was also held without a rebound for the first time this season. Cooley had at least a couple opportunities to grab a board, but on at least two occasions Georgetown players took the ball out of his hands.
After sitting out the last game (presumably because of a verbal disagreement with JTIII at the end of the loss to Seton Hall), sophomore guard Markel Starks escaped the doghouse against Notre Dame. While he didn’t reclaim his spot in the starting lineup, Starks was the first man off the bench, checking in at the 14:25 mark of the first half.
In 22 minutes of play, the sophomore didn’t make a lot of noise, posting four points and two assists. However, Starks did make one of the biggest buckets of the game. In the middle of the first half, the score was deadlocked at 11-11 for four minutes. Starks finally ended the drought, finishing on the fast break after an Otto Porter steal. The bucket was the start of a 7-0 run for the Hoyas.
For Hoya fans, it’s a lot of scoreboard watching, while the Hoyas themselves have until Saturday to get ready for a rematch with No. 7 Marquette. There are a number of scenarios in play for Georgetown, but here’s the simple one: if the Hoyas beat Marquette, they’re guaranteed to finish no worse than third in the conference and would earn a double bye in the Big East Tournament.