Marq’ It Up: Hoyas Escape Against Marquette to Win Second Straight
They’ll take it.
Despite seeming in control with an 11-point lead at the 14:47 mark of the second half, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (10-4, 2-1 Big East) found a way to eke out a 65-59 win against Marquette (9-6, 1-2 Big East) Tuesday night at Verizon Center.
The Hoyas failed to convert a field goal for a 12:06 stretch in the second half, which ended after senior center Joshua Smith’s layup with 4:03 left in regulation gave the Hoyas a 52-46 lead. A three-pointer from Marquette freshman guard Duane Wilson at the 2:05 mark punctuated a 7-2 run by the Golden Eagles and cut the Hoyas’ lead to 54-53.
Two possessions later, however, Georgetown junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera fade-away jumper in traffic extended the Hoyas’ lead to 56-53 with 1:12 remaining to effectively seal the Blue and Gray’s second consecutive win. The Hoyas shot 9-of-10 from the free throw in the closing minute to combat any hope of a Marquette comeback.
In the post-game press conference, Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III did not expect anything different from his junior guard, acknowledging that his late-game heroics will be paramount if the Hoyas want to have a successful season.
“If he can’t help us close games than we’re in trouble,” said Thompson. “He did what he’s supposed to do at the end of games.”
Smith-Rivera, the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, relishes late-game situations like the one he faced Tuesday night.
“I just knew, down the stretch, that my team eventually was going to rely on me to show up at that point,” said Smith-Rivera. “I just wanted to make a play and stop the bleeding a little bit.”
Overall, Smith-Rivera led the Hoyas with a team-high 15 points to go along with five assists. Smith complemented the junior guard well in the post as he tallied 12 points and game-high 10 rebounds, good enough for his first ever double-double in Big East play and his third of the season.
The 6-10, 350-pounder also showed some flash on the defensive end as he had a game-high three steals. Senior guard Jabril Trawick also added 13 points, converting 8-of-9 attempts from the free-throw line.
Considering the strong play of the team’s freshmen helped propelled the Hoyas to victory in their last game against Creighton, the play of upperclassmen such as Smith-Rivera and Smith proved to be the difference makers this time, a testament to the depth of Thompson’s squad.
“Some games it will be two or three people who will step up, the next game it may be these two or three people and it could be different combinations,” said Thompson following the win. “We have the versatility where on different nights it’s going to be different people.”
Despite the clutch play of the Hoyas’ upperclassmen in the closing minutes, the Hoyas’ struggled for most of the second half on the offensive end. The alternating zone defenses of Marquette, from a 2-3 to 1-3-1 halfcourt trap, gave the Blue and Gray fits, especially during their nearly 12:00 stretch without a field goal. Thompson knows their significant room for improvement from his squad.
“I think our zone offense was bogged down for most of the game to tell you the truth. I don’t think we had enough movement. Their zone is very good,” said Thompson. “Once you put the ball down and try to penetrate against their zone, they come up with loose balls. We have to do much better the next time we see them.”
In their losing effort, the Golden Eagles were led by graduate student Matt Carlino who had a game-high 16 points, on 6-of-14 shooting, and sophomore center Luke Fischer who added 13 points on perfect 6-of-6 shooting. Marquette Head Coach Steve Wojciechowski was pleased with the Indiana transfer’s performance. He just wished his team did more to get Fischer more touches on offense and that Fischer was not plagued with foul trouble, forcing him to sit at critical junctures in the contest.
“Luke is a really good player and he continues to get more comfortable each time out,” said the first-year head coach Wojciechowski. “We have to keep figuring out ways to get him the ball in areas that he can work. But Luke is obviously a really good player.”
Thompson was relieved that Fischer found himself in foul trouble, as his team struggled to contain him.
“We were fortunate,” said Thompson. “Fisher is a load down there and he’s very good on offensively, so we were fortunate that he got in foul trouble.”
The Blue and Gray will look to build on their two-game winning streak when they travel to face Providence (12-4, 2-1 Big East) this Saturday for a noon tip-off.
Photo: Georgetown University