The Georgetown men’s basketball team (11-6, 4-1 Big East) notched a decisive victory over St. John’s (7-11, 0-5 Big East) by a final score of 93-73 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera matched his career-high 33 points on 11-of-16 shooting and also had six rebounds and two assists. His 33 points are the most scored in a Big East game so far this season.
Smith-Rivera credits good timing and strong offensive chemistry as the key to his performance.
“I can’t really explain it. My teammates did a great job today of finding me when I was open. Usually [the points are] distributed more, but today it was just being in the right spot at the right time,” Smith-Rivera said.
Freshman forward Marcus Derrickson, who had started every game this season before last night, did not play and was replaced by junior forward Reggie Cameron. Cameron scored 15 points in 27 minutes on 3-of-8 shooting from three-point range. Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III cited an apparent collision during practice as the reason that Derrickson sat the bench.
“The other day in practice, he banged knees, and I think that’s all there is — I’m not positive — but after warmups today he came in and said he couldn’t go,” Thompson said. “I don’t think it’s anything serious.”
The Hoyas quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead and went on to control the game from start to finish..
“Georgetown came out and played hard tonight,” said Durand Johnson, St. John’s graduate student forward. “Obviously we came out sleepwalking a little bit and Georgetown got comfortable making shots. You give any team confidence, they are able to make shots, and that’s what happened tonight.”
The hot shooting of freshman guard Federico Mussini — the Red Storm’s leading scorer — kept them in the game early, as he made two consecutive three-pointers to make the score 9-6, with Georgetown in the lead. But that would be as close as St. John’s would get for the rest of the night, as Georgetown increased its lead to 17 midway through the first half, thanks to a three-pointer from sophomore guard Tre Campbell. Campbell had one of his most prolific games of the season, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field, including 2-for-2 from beyond the arc.
Strong efforts on defense allowed Georgetown to start building a dominant lead on the other end of the court.
“I think early in the game, our guys really helped each other defensively, which enabled us to slowly pull away,” Thompson said.
Sophomore forward Trey Mourning got some extended playing time, after starting senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes and freshman center Jessie Govan both got into foul trouble. Mourning gave a solid effort on both ends of the court and hit a smooth jumper late in the first half to make it 37-22 with 4:56 remaining. Georgetown was up by a score of 45-28 by halftime and continued its strong play in the second half without any letup.
Smith-Rivera tried his best to put away the Red Storm for good early in the second half, hitting two straight threes to make it 53-30, the Hoyas’ largest lead to that point.
The Hoyas maintained their large lead for much of the game, until the Red Storm made a small run toward the end of the game, trying to claw back into contention. St. John’s went on a 14-3 run to cut the Georgetown lead to 14 points with 3:06 remaining, which was enough to have Thompson send in Smith-Rivera one last time to close out the game. Smith-Rivera ended the St. John’s run with two free throws, and Campbell finished things off with his second three-point shot of the night to make it 93-73 and put the game out of reach for the hosts.
“I thought tonight [there was] mental and physical fatigue, but that happens,” St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin said of the loss.
For St. John’s, graduate student forward Ron Mvouika was the team’s leading scorer with 15 points and four rebounds, while Mussini had just 11 points and four assists on 3-for-10 shooting. The Hoyas’ defense limited the Red Storm to shoot just 38.9 percent from the field, while Georgetown finished at 51.9 percent in comparison.
Sophomore forward Isaac Copeland continued to struggle on the court, continuing a trend of low-scoring performances spanning the past four games. Copeland scored nine points on 1-of-9 shooting and grabbed just three rebounds.
Next, the Hoyas will host the No. 6 Villanova Wildcats (15-2, 5-0 Big East), Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center. Tipoff is at 1 p.m., and the game will be televised on CBS.
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