WASHINGTON, D.C. – If there ever was a game that showcased the benefits of the Princeton-style offense that Coach John Thompson III predominately uses as the base for his teams at Georgetown, Sunday afternoon’s game against St. John’s would be the perfect example.
An unlikely player stepped up to lead the team in scoring for the first time all season. There were four players that recorded at least three assists. All seven players who scored had at least seven points and none scored more than 12 points by truly taking advantage of what the defense was designed to prevent – the ‘stars’ from scoring.
Simply put, it had it all.
Greg Whittington came off the bench and established a career-high with 12 points while four of his teammates joined him in double figures as 12th – ranked Georgetown defeated St. John’s 71-61 before 12,285 at the Verizon Center.
Georgetown (19-5, 9-4) recovered from an overtime loss to second-ranked Syracuse last Wednesday to remain in contention for a top-four finish in the conference which includes the all-important double-bye in the Big East Tournament.
Jason Clark, Markel Starks, and Otto Porter each chipped in with eleven points while Hollis Thompson added ten in a game when the junior forward was the focus of the Red Storm defense.
“We know who beat us last time,” assistant Coach Mike Dunlap said about Thompson’s 20 point performance behind 7-of-13 shooting in a 69-49 Georgetown win at Madison Square Garden last month.
Dunlap is in charge of St. John’s while Coach Steve Lavin recovers from prostate cancer surgery.
Thompson only attempted six shots in the rematch but it didn’t matter as the Hoyas spread the wealth by assisting on 17 of their 24 field goals. It was the third straight game that Georgetown has assisted on at least seventy percent of its made baskets.
With the loss St. John’s (10-15, 4-9) fell to 0-10 against ranked opponents this season.
Despite a depleted roster that currently includes just six scholarship players, the Red Storm stayed in the game behind strong performances by D’Angelo Harrison (game-high 24 points) and Moe Harkless (20 points).
After two Harrison free throws cut Georgetown’s lead to just 51-48 with 6:02 remaining, the Hoyas, who shot 60.9 percent in the second half, finally found their stroke from deep.
Whittington, Clark, and Starks each hit late three-pointers to squash any attempts at a St. John’s upset. Georgetown finished the game 3-of-5 from three-point range after connecting on only 4-of-18 to start the game.
“The key was the kinds of threes that they were,” Coach Thompson III explained as to why the late shots might have been more successful.
“We get it into Otto [Porter], we get it into Nate [Lubick], they got it back out, and our feet were set.”
Not to go unnoticed in the victory was the all-around effort of Nate Lubick who tied his season-high in Big East play with 27 minutes and made the most out of the opportunity.
Lubick had seven points and five assists but his biggest contributions were what his coach dubbed “hustle plays”.
The sophomore forward had a career-high four blocks and hauled in eight rebounds, perhaps none bigger than the one he pulled down to ultimately set up Clark’s three-point play with 3:15 left in the game.
“We needed to bounce back fast and that’s how you do well in this league,” Lubick said about avoiding a second possible two-game conference slide in such a tight race.
Up Next: Georgetown is off until Saturday when they travel to Providence to take on the Friars (13-13, 2-11). The Hoyas won the first meeting 49-40 on New Year’s Eve in their lowest scoring output of the season.
Hoyas Notes: Whittington became the sixth different player to lead Georgetown in scoring this season. With eleven points, Jason Clark passed Jonathan Wallace and Robert Churchwell on the all-time scoring list to move into 22nd place with 1,258 points.