Last night, the men’s basketball team turned senior night into a celebration with a convincing 74-58 victory over Rutgers. Playing in front of 9,918 fans at the MCI Center, senior center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje led the Hoyas with 15 points, eight rebounds, two blocks, one assist and a steal.
The final minute of the game was given to the seniors, as rarely used forward O.J. Johnson and swingman Gharun Hester joined Boumtje-Boumtje, swingman Nat Burton and big man Lee Scruggs on the floor. The sixth senior, Anthony Perry, had fouled out, but only after showing off his shooting touch by hitting 4 of 6 shots attempts, including 2 of 3 from three-point range.
“[There was] a lot of emotion,” Boumtje-Boumtje said, “but we knew we had to win. [We were] as focused as we could be.”
Boumtje-Boumtje was joined in double figures by Scruggs, Perry and first-year power forward Mike Sweetney with 14, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Other than Perry, Scruggs was the only Hoya to hit half of his shots, knocking down 4 of 6.
Burton’s intense defense was in full effect during nine first-half minutes, but he played only three minutes in the second half as first-year small forward Gerald Riley used the large Hoya lead to work through his recent slump. Riley finished with five second-half points?including a smooth three pointer from the right corner opened up by a Sweetney pass out of the post?and eight rebounds in 22 minutes.
The Hoya backcourt came back to earth after their dominance of the Syracuse backcourt on Saturday. Sophomore shooting guard Demetrius Hunter hit only 2 of 9 shots, but he had a major impact on defense as Rutgers’ scorers, Jeff Greer and Todd Billet, struggled to high point totals.
After the game, Hunter said his achilles has been making “steady improvement” and that he has some extra support in his shoe.
Junior point guard Kevin Braswell, who Head Coach Craig Esherick said was battling a sore shooting hand, only scored four points on three shots.
With his hand hurting, Braswell turned to breaking Sleepy Floyd’s (CAS ‘82) record for steals and dishing out seven assists. Braswell finished with six steals giving him 257 for his career, four better than Floyd’s 253.
Perry and Scruggs’ shooting got the Hoyas out of an early struggle on both sides of the court. The duo hit their first four three pointers. Back-to-back threes?with Scruggs hitting first from the left corner and Perry following with a bomb from the left wing?put the Hoyas up 25-18 with 8:50 left in the contest and forced the Scarlet Knights to use a timeout.
Georgetown built its lead to as much as 11 at 34-23 on a Perry free throw and 36-25 on a layin by Boumtje-Boumtje thanks to Hunter getting the Hoyas into their early offense after a Rutgers basket. The Hoyas didn’t score for the rest of the half, allowing the Scarlet Knights a chance to cut the lead. Impressive defense, including a shot-clock violation by the Knights in the final minute of the half, kept the lead at nine, 36-27, heading into the locker room.
In the second half the Hoyas wasted no time in putting the game away. In the first 1:17, Georgetown fouled out Rutgers’ center, Eugene Dabney. For the game, Dabney played only four minutes before collecting his five fouls. From there, interior dominance by Boumtje-Boumtje and Sweetney aided by a thunderous dunk from first-year center Wesley Wilson, two Hunter three pointers and Riley’s three pushed the lead higher and higher, peaking at 58-40 slightly before the official timeout at 7:55.
Scruggs was responsible for the final three points that gave Georgetown the 18-point lead as he scored on a pretty, spinning drive which set him up for a short shot and a free throw.
From there, the Hoyas coasted to victory, despite what Esherick saw as less than adequate free-throw shooting and an inability to convert on layups.
The win guarantees that the Hoyas will have a chance to clinch a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament with a win over Notre Dame on Sunday. The Irish beat the Hoyas earlier this season on Jan. 27.
After the game, Boumtje-Boumtje indicated that the Hoyas will “be fine” against Notre Dame as long as they are focused. Hunter said that if the Hoyas play tough and play smart against Notre Dame, “we’ll beat them.”