No. 10 Georgetown’s defense harassed the Friars into shooting 25.9 percent from the field, and Thompson’s double-double helped the Hoyas pull away for a 63-53 victory at Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
The win was the second straight for the Hoyas (20-5, 10-4 Big East) and their seventh in a row over the Friars. It also gave them 10 or more conference wins for the sixth time in seven seasons and gave Coach John Thompson III his sixth 20-win season in eight years on the Hilltop.
“You say we held them to under 26 percent, and all that’s stuck in my head are the easy baskets and second shots and stuff that we gave them,” Thompson said. “Certain team, certain years, they are capable of accomplishing things. This group, I can hold to a very high standard, realistically. In spite of the 26 percent, we can be better.”
Despite playing without guard Gerard Coleman, the team’s fourth-leading scorer who was out with the flu, the Friars (13-15, 2-13) made a game of it early in the second half after Ron Giplaye flushed an alley-oop pass from Vincent Council that cut the home team’s deficit to 36-32 and ignited the crowd of 11,563.
That, however, was a close as the Hoyas would let them get.
Hollis Thompson made a three-pointer, and after Otto Porter grabbed a defensive rebound at the other end, Jason Clark (13 points) sank a long three-pointer from the corner to stretch Georgetown’s lead to 42-32.
Center Henry Sims kicked the ball out of the Friars’ zone on both shots.
“The good thing about this team is it’s hard to break our spirit,” said Sims, who finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and a game-high five assists. “Coach told me to get in the zone and be a good passer. And that’s what I tried to do on those two shots.”
Thompson’s 13-point, 10-rebound effort was marked his third double-double this season and second in three games. He had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the Hoyas’ loss at Syracuse last week.
“As important as anything was Hollis had 10 rebounds today,” Thompson said. “And Henry was really good on offense, getting other guys shots, getting in the middle of that zone and being patient and finding the open person.”
Nate Lubick had a strong performance in front of a crowd that included several dozen friends and family members from his hometown of Southborough, Mass. The sophomore forward hit a three-pointer in the first half, threw down a thunderous dunk in the second and finished with a season-high nine points. His playing time, though, was also limited by foul trouble.
“I just took stupid fouls,” he said. “But I definitely was not too amped up.”
Saturday’s game started out strikingly similar to the team’s first meeting. Georgetown limited the Friars to 4 for 28 shooting in the first half — at one point, the hosts missed 20 consecutive field goal attempts — but the Hoyas only led by three points 1 minute 36 seconds before halftime.
Part of Georgetown’s inability to put the game out of reach was its inability to make foul shots. The Hoyas made only 14 of their 23 attempts in the game. It marked the fifth time this season Georgetown shot worse than 61 percent from the line.
“It was a very off night,” John Thompson said. “We have to make more. If we make our foul shots, you’re not as antsy as you are coming down the stretch.”
Although the Friars trimmed their deficit to 58-50 on a three-pointer by Council with 1:27 left to play, the Hoyas did not flinch. Sims, in fact, answered with a backboard-rattling dunk that put an exclamation point on the win.
“In conference play, particularly on the road, you’re not going run away from teams,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t mean we’re not going to try. But this group isn’t frustrated when it doesn’t happen because we’ve accepted the mind-set of, ‘Hey, every night is going to be a grind.’ ”