In a 68-49 win over the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks (1-5), the Georgetown Hoyas (3-3) notched their second home win of the season. Senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera broke out of his season-long shooting slump, scoring a game and season-high 30 points, including five three-pointers, on efficient 10-of-16 shooting.
“It feels great, man,” Smith-Rivera said. “My teammates just supported me pretty much through all the games and I finally feel like the weight is off my shoulders a little bit. … Shots were going to fall eventually, and I appreciate my teammates for just continuing to find me and continuing to look for me when I’m open.”
Head Coach John Thompson III echoed those sentiments.
“I’ve lost a lot of hours and nights’ sleep over a lot of different things as it relates to this young man, but none of them have to do with offense,” Thompson said.
However, aside from Smith-Rivera’s scoring display, Georgetown’s 19-point victory was hard-fought, and most of the team struggled from the field against the Hawks’ zone defense.
“I thought the zone caused them problems,” UMES Head Coach Bobby Collins said of how his team slowed down senior center Bradley Hayes and freshman center Jessie Govan. “We didn’t allow them to get the ball inside very much. When they did score, it was Smith-Rivera on the end of it every time knocking down a three, an open three.”
The game started off well for the Hoyas, as they broke out to an early lead behind a 3-of-3 start by Smith-Rivera from three-point range. Georgetown also used a three-quarter-court press for the majority of the first half, forcing 14 Maryland Eastern Shore turnovers that led to 20 points for the Hoyas.
“Turnovers really cost us in the first half and we dug ourselves a nice hole,” Collins said.
However, the Hawks turned their offensive struggles around in the second half and increased their defensive pressure, full-court pressing the Hoyas. Their press forced 10 Georgetown turnovers, which led to 12 points for UMES, ultimately cutting the Hoyas’ lead to 11 at the nine-minute mark.
Around this time, the Hoyas began using a smaller lineup, putting in a three-guard lineup of Smith-Rivera and sophomore guards L.J. Peak and Tre Campbell, who returned after a three-game absence.
“I just wanted to let little Tre to get his legs back and just get a little bit of rhythm. In the second half I just wanted to leave him out there as much as he physically could go, just to get back out there,” Thompson said of Campbell’s return.
The small-ball lineup worked wonders for the Hoyas, as they pushed their lead to 17. The lineup had a plus-minus of nine for the game, the best of any five-man lineup Georgetown put out on the court.
“They weren’t necessarily a big team, so it was better matching up when we went small,” Thompson said. “All those guys can initiate the offense for us and make shots, so it worked today.”
Beyond just going small, the Hoyas played 12 of their 13 players — only excluding sophomore forward Akoy Agau, who is injured — showcasing their deep roster.
Sophomore forward Paul White, while coming off a hip injury, was an integral part of the rotation last season but has played just 16 minutes total in his two games back.
Both he and Campbell figure to see more extended minutes as they return to full health, but junior forward Reggie Cameron’s stellar play thus far may have earned him some of White’s minutes, at least for now.
Georgetown will now have four days to prepare for arguably its biggest game of the season against the No. 14 Syracuse Orange (6-0) Saturday. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. on Fox.
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