Reporting Bobby Bancroft
WASHINGTON – Left for dead by many after an 0-2 start in the Big East, No. 15 Georgetown continued its winning ways on Monday night by defeating 18th-ranked Marquette 63-55 behind 21 points from Otto Porter Jr and another 16 points from Markel Starks.
With their sixth straight win and eighth in nine tries since losing Greg Whittington, the Hoyas (18-4, 8-3) moved into a second place tie with Marquette (17-6, 8-3), a half game behind league leading Syracuse.
Over the past month Georgetown has received bench contributions from some rather unlikely sources. Aaron Bowen’s impact against Providence as well as walk-on John Caprio’s first half success against Seton Hall immediately stand out.
Well in front of 11,821 at the Verizon Center on ESPN’s Big Mondy, the Hoyas once again used an unlikely spark off the bench during a decisive second half run.
On this occasion, however, that extra boost came from the visitor’s bench.
Off to an ice cold second half start by converting just one field goal over the first seven minutes, Georgetown saw its comfortable ten point halftime cushion cut down to just three at 37-34.
After being serenaded by Georgetown students with an “Off the Court” chant earlier in the game for taking numerous trips well outside the coaches box – one that even went all the way to mid-court during action to signal a timeout, Marquette coach Buzz Williams finally used up all of his official goodwill when he was whistled for his first technical foul of the season. It happend with 12:14 remaining after Williams felt that a loose ball had gone off Georgetown’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera instead of Marquette big man Davante Gardner.
“I was just hollering at somebody that would respond,” Williams explained. ”We can make a big deal out of it if you want. I got a technical I’m sorry. I may get a technical again next year, that’s my average and it will probably be on the road.”
Despite Williams attempt to downplay his fifth career technical in five Big East seasons, the Hoyas responded with four straight Porter Jr points and pushed the lead back up to ten points less than 90 seconds after the call. Marquette would never get closer than eight points the rest of the night as Georgetown evened the season series with the Golden Eagles for the second straight season.
For a completely different view of the situation, a perspective seemingly far more in tune with what actually happened in the immediate aftermath, Georgetown’s junior point guard weighed in.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Starks said when asked if he felt a momentum shift.
Georgetown used a 24-9 advantage in points off of turnovers to make up for an off shooting night (39 percent) in picking up some revenge for its first conference loss of the season, a 49-48 setback on Jan. 5.
Nate Lubick aggressively bounced back after fouling out in 15 scoreless minutes against Rutgers over the weekend by contributing ten points. The junior forward connected on 8-of-13 free throws to go along with a team high four assists.
Mikael Hopkins continued his resurgence down low by collecting a career-high nine rebounds in helping the Hoyas win the battle of the boards 32-28. After scoring 14 points in that Rutgers win, the sophomore forward seems to peaking at just the right time as Georgetown goes on the road for three of its next four games.
“God bless him, now he has to do it again on Saturday, Friday, whenver we play next”, Coach John Thompson III said about Hopkins nine rebounds.
“He did a good job in that regard, but he’s supposed to do a good job. If you talk about him, the one thing I’d talk about more than anything else is the defensive job on trying to make it hard for [Davante] Gardner and [Chris] Otule to get the ball where they wanted the ball.”
Otule finished with 11 points after hitting four of Marquette’s first five field goals. The senior center made just one of his final four shots, struggling against Hopkins and reserve center Moses Ayegba.
Notes: Georgetown is now 13-1 at the Verizon Center this season. The Hoyas improved to 4-1 against Marquette at home and 7-4 overall in Big East play.
Up Next: The Hoyas will play at Cincinnati on Friday night. Georgetown has lost four straight and six out of seven to the Bearcats, including a double overtime thriller in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Big East tournament last March. Georgetown’s only away win over Cincinnati came in the 2006-07 season as the Hoyas ultimately went on to reach the Final Four in Atlanta. This season’s Final Four is also in Atlanta.