D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Markel Starks keep making noise for Hoyas

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Markel Starks keep making noise for Hoyas
March 19, 2014, 6:00 am
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The momentum-shifting spurt came early in the second half of Georgetown's 77-65 victory over West Virginia.

After trailing much of the game to that moment, the Hoyas jumped ahead with seven straight points. The surge, capped by senior Markel Starks' crafty layup for a 41-36 lead, forced Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins to call timeout. The stoppage only emboldened the raucous student sections camped on both sides of cozy McDonough Arena.

Starks, who is now in constant threat of playing his last game for Georgetown, went out of his way to encourage them.

As players walked to their respective benches for the break in action, the fiery senior guard took a few strides toward the stands on the opposite side. As the gray t-shirt wearing, "Let's Go Hoyas" faction screamed at their rock concert loudest, Starks cocked an all-knowing, "we got this" wink in their direction.

Clearly, Georgetown's emotional leader had a good feel for the room and the game. The first-team Big East selection later acknowledged he had a blast playing in it.

"The energy from the crowd of translated to us and I wanted to give it back to let them know I was having fun too," said Starks, who finished with 14 points, seven assists and a career-high seven rebounds.

[RELATED: Hoyas take down Mountaineers, 77-65]

Backcourt partner D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera ensured West Virginia defenders didn't enjoy themselves. The sophomore, named to the Big East's second team, scored 23 of his season-high 32 points in the second half before the crowd of 2,133.

"Mostly it was just great screens and Markel finding me around the corner, back cuts, things like that," said the humble Smith-Rivera. He made 7 of 10 field goal attempts in the second half and sank all 10 of his free throw attempts.

Asked how about his team guarding Smith-Rivera, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said, "I don't think he felt like it was much of a challenge. We haven't guarded all year."

The 6-foot-3 Smith-Rivera also grabbed 10 rebounds. Georgetown finished with a 34-29 advantage on the glass.

Sitting behind the postgame podium in between his two top scorers, Thompson said, "You've heard me say all year that I think these two guys make up the best backcourt in the country."

Jabril Trawick added 14 points. The trio scored 22 of Georgetown's first 25 points in the second half as the Hoyas eventually turned four-point deficit into a 68-51 lead.

Thompson stuck to a tight rotation, using only seven players. All had their moments as Georgetown ended a five-game losing streak to WVU.

"These two guys are going to sleep well tonight along with other guys in the locker room," Thompson said.

The Hoyas will play at Florida State in the second round. Depending on that result and one on the other side of the bracket, Georgetown may not return to play at home again this season. Obviously, Starks, his coach and his teammates aren't playing in the postseason event of choice. They're clearly making the best of it.