Postgame roundup: Men’s basketball struggles past Towson

DSC_008020 minutes in, it was déjà vu for the Georgetown Hoyas (7-1, 0-0 Big East) at the Verizon Center, in more ways than one. First, the Hoyas put up jut 17 points in the half, shooting 16.7 percent from the field, in an offensive performance reminiscent of their 37-36 win against Tennessee just a week prior. Then, of course, their opponent featured a familiar face as junior Georgetown transfer Jerrelle Benimon led Towson with 11 points and 16 rebounds.

But the Hoyas ultimately prevailed, as they have on most nights this season, winning the ugly affair 46-40. They won despite facing a scrappy Towson team that seemed to know what was coming during every Hoya offensive possession. Credit that to Benimon.

“I could read stuff,” he said of Georgetown’s Princeton sets. “I played in the offense, so it’s just a whole bunch of reads, so once you see one thing you can sniff it out. It helped a lot, especially in the first half.”

Even Georgetown’s Head Coach John Thompson III admitted as much, saying the Tigers successfully took the Hoyas out of their offensive flow, a difference from the Tennessee matchup where there seemed to be a figurative lid on the basket.

“I felt this was much different than the Tennessee game, because against Tennessee we were getting point blank shots that weren’t going in,” he said. “Today our flow wasn’t as good as it needed to be in both halves.”

Early on, the Hoyas were having trouble getting shots to drop early on in the first half, but sophomore Otto Porter Jr. ended the dry streak with a three pointer almost five minutes into the game. Towson kept their defense dense and forced the Hoyas to shoot the ball from the perimeter, which on an average day would have been positive.

The Tigers did their best to slow the game down, especially when they brought the ball up on offense. Efforts in transition were almost nonexistent in the early going and with the exception of a three from sophomore Greg Whittington, the Hoyas were able to tie the score at 13 apiece with free throws from sophomore Mikael Hopkins and junior Nate Lubick. With only 3 minutes left in the half, the urgency on the court began to grow and passes by Georgetown became much swifter. After Benimon grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up to take the lead, the Hoyas swung the ball around the outside until Porter created an opening, received a pass running through the lane that resulted in a layup. As time ran down below 1 minute, Lubick showcased the same sort of organized passing by finding Whittington in the lane for the easy dunk, ending the half with the Hoyas up 17-15.

“It’s got to get better. I told the guys this, at this point we have a lot of growing up to do. We’re immature offensively, in that we have a lot of guys that are thinking trying to figure out what to do, what reads to make and it’s something we have to work on,” said head coach John Thompson III of his team’s offense.

With the start of the second half, the scoring picked up on both sides. Another foul allowed Benimon to tie the score but junior Markel Starks tossed a pass to Porter in transition for an easy layup, followed by two sets of foul shots taken by Hopkins in which he made three. Despite the Hoya defense smothering Towson on each attempt to get down the court, Jerome Hairston of the Tigers began to heat up by driving straight through the middle for a layup and then sinking a three to tie the score once again at 22. Starks and Lubick responded with a baseline drive and a hook, respectively, but Hairston dropped another three right after.

As the clock passed 10 minutes, the score reached 30 each and both teams were dealing with low field goal percentages. Hopkins scored three of the Hoyas’ next six off of free throws alone, but this forced Bilal Dixon of Towson to foul out, weakening the Tigers down below. Without the extra size under the basket, Georgetown was able lay up two more shots via Hopkins and Lubick to make the score 40-37. In easily the most exciting play of the day, Whittington blocked a three on the defensive half and Lubick tipped the ball back to him, allowing him to beat the Tigers down the court for an emphatic dunk.

With the score at 42-37, the Hoyas attained their largest lead of the game as play became rougher for the final five minutes. Benimon dropped a three but it would be Towson’s last score of the game. With only one field goal falling in the final minutes, a Starks midrange jumper, spotty free throw shooting brought the score to 46-40, at which the game would end in favor of Georgetown.

Georgetown will next face Longwood University tomorrow at home, tipping off at 7 p.m. The frustration offensively will be in the minds of the Hoyas as they take the court and hopefully spur them to play to their potential. Thompson III had some final words in reflection on the slow win.

“It was one of those games where we said, ‘let’s make this as ugly as possible.’ I think you guys have heard me say, we can win in different ways. We can win at a fast pace, we can win at a slow pace, we can win what purists may call pretty, but we can also win ugly.”

Additional reporting by Kevin Joseph

Photo: Miles Gavin Meng

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