No. 12 Georgetown finally puts away St. John's

No. 12 Georgetown finally puts away St. John's
February 12, 2012, 8:22 pm
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In many ways, Georgetown's gameagainst St. Johns followed a script familiar to previous homedates this season. The Hoyas never trailed, yet struggled to put the undermanned Red Storm away. The continuous advantage infrequently dipped into single-possession territory, yet there was rarely a comfortable working margin, at least not one that lingered.Eventually the Hoyas' sluggish offense turned efficient against the Red Storms tricky zone,empty trips down court replaced by a series of baskets strung together. Eventually, the Hoyas stared down yet another visiting foe.Leading by three points with less than six minutes remaining, the No. 12 Hoyas scored on five consecutive possessions and finished off the Red Storm for a 71-61 win on Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center.Freshman Greg Whittington paced five double-digit scorers with 12 points and his 3-pointer with 5:42 left started the Hoyas 14-8 run that turned a tight 51-48 edge into a breathable 65-56 lead. Nate Lubicks hustling performance provided energy throughout and helped the Hoyas (19-5, 9-4 Big East) battle back from Wednesday loss at No. 2 Syracuse. The Hoyas have won five of seven overall, improved to 13-1 at home and moved into sole possession of fourth place in the Big East.Squads with a more fragile psyche might have succumbed to a frustrating scenario of missed shots and a scrappy foe refusing to fade despite having only six scholarship players available. The Hoyas mental game along with their depth, steady defensive presence and timely scoring won out.This group doesnt get rattled, said Georgetown coach John Thompson III after his teams third straight victory over St. Johns, and seventh consecutive at home.The Red Storm (10-15, 4-9), losers of three straight, stayed in constant contact due to the scoring prowess of freshmen DAngelo Harrison (24 points) and Moe Harkless (20).DefensivelySt. John'sfocused on shadowing Jason Clark and using a box-in-one at times on Hollis Thompson. Considering the Hoyas top scorersdropped acombined 35 points in last month's 69-49 win on the Red Storm's home court, no wonder.It took some timefor Georgetown tofind a scoring rhythm. After shooting less than 40 percent from the field in the first half, the Hoyas sank 60.9 percent (14-23) of their attempts after halftime, including 5-of-7 during the decisive surge. They were knocking down shots, and getting to the cup. But we stayed focused, got into the overload, played in and out, said Jason Clark, who matched Markel Starks and Otto Porter with 11 points. We got some open shots and knocked them down.No double figure scoring for Lubick (seven points), but the rugged power forward made his only three field-goal attempts and did just about everything else. After playing only seven minutes in Wednesdays loss to the Orange, Lubick responded with a career-high four blocks, a team-high five assists and matched Porter with eight rebounds. The sophomores effort in the first half stood out and then he matched it late with twoblocks and a key offensive rebound.Things obviously didnt go our way offensively in the first half. We were a little sluggish coming out on both ends. I wanted to come out and bring a bunch of energy, Lubick said.The Hoyas finished 7-of-23 from beyond the arc, but starting with Whittingtons 3-pointer hit three from distancein that closing stretch.After the two sides traded scores, Harrison connected on one of his five 3-pointers, cutting the lead to 56-53 with 4:20 left.At that pointClark was 0-for-5 from beyond the arc andhad onlyfour points. You would never hadrealizedthe senior'sstruggles -hisown coach expressed surprise in the postgame press conference when he learned ofClark's wayward stats - when 19 seconds later hecountered Harrison with his own 3-pointer. After a defensive stop, Clarks attempt at another 3-pointer failed, but Lubick snared an offensive rebound. The extra possession ended in a layup and traditional 3-point from Clark, pushing the lead to 62-32 with 3:14 left.Once again, Harrison struck from distance, but the Hoyas ball movement set up a Starks 3-pointer with 2:27 left. Working the ball successfully in and around the Red Storms zone turned the tables.I think the key was the kinds of threes that they were, said the Hoyas coach. Instead of the side-to-side three, we get into Otto, get it into Nate and they got it back out and our feet were set. They were big.Georgetown made 6-of-11 free throws over the final 1:32 and finally pulled away from the game Red Storm at bay.When we had them at three they were up plus three, three times we just couldnt level the score to get the shot, said St. Johns assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who has filled in while head coach Steve Lavin recovers from prostate cancer surgery. We didnt have to get the big stop. We had to get the big make and we couldnt do it.Hollis Thompson added 10 points for the Hoyas, who finished with five double-digit scorers for the second consecutive home game. Whittington was also the fourth different players to the Hoyas in scoring in as many games. More examples of the balanced Hoyas not relying on any one player for offense, another familiar pattern throughout this impressive season.