Red Hot Effort: Hoyas run over St. John’s to snap three-game skid

February 8, 2016

Tyler Pearre

The bubble hasn’t burst yet.

The Georgetown men’s basketball team (14-11, 7-5 Big East) snapped its three-game losing streak Monday night, as the Hoyas defeated St. John’s (7-18, 0-12 Big East) 92-67 in front of a sparse crowd of 5,369 fans at Verizon Center.

Tyler Pearre

The win moves the Blue and Gray into sole possession of fourth place in the Big East standings and temporarily keeps their NCAA Tournament hopes on life support. The win also completes the regular season sweep of the Red Storm, who the Hoyas also defeatedly soundly, 93-73, in New York on Jan. 13.

Senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, sophomore forward Isaac Copeland, and sophomore guard LJ Peak each scored 20 or more points to lead a Georgetown offensive effort that shot 54 percent from the field, the fourth time this season the Hoyas have made at least half their field goal attempts. Georgetown assisted on 21 of its 32 made field goals, tying a season-high from the team’s win earlier this season over Xavier.

“Our guys did a good job of penetrating, making the defense collapse, and then kicking it out. You do that, and for some magical reason, the shots do go in a lot more,” said Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III. “We absolutely shared the game today, which was good.”

Tyler Pearre

Smith-Rivera had 24 points off 6-of-13 shooting, while Copeland had a career-high 23 points off 8-of-11 shooting, and Peak added 20 points off the bench. For Copeland, it marks the second-straight game where he’s scored 18 or more points after an offensive lull that defined much of his play the last month.

“I think the last two games he’s been playing basketball,” said Thompson. “He’s been playing a complete game.”

Redshirt junior Christian Jones paced the reeling Red Storm, who have lost 15 in a row, with 14 points and nine rebounds off the bench. The Johnnies shot 43 percent overall from the field and were outrebounded by the Hoyas 39-27.

“That’s not the way St. John’s-Georgetown basketball is supposed to be. Too polite,” said St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin.

Smith-Rivera scored the Hoyas’ first eight points to catalyze a hot start for the Blue and Gray, who made six of their first eight field goal attempts to jump out to a commanding 25-13 lead after a Peak three-pointer just 7:35 into the game. Georgetown continued their hot shooting throughout the half, shooting season-highs from both the field, 57 percent, and three-point range, 54 percent, to take a 48-32 halftime lead.

The Hoyas maintained the same hot form in the second half, shooting 52 percent overall to extend their lead to as many as 28 points late in the period. The closest deficit the Red Storm faced in the second half was 14 points, 48-34, after a free throw from senior guard Durand Johnson within the first few minutes of the period.

Georgetown returns to action this Saturday, when they go on the road to face No. 20 Providence (18-6, 6-5 Big East). Tip-off is set for noon and will be televised on FOX. The Friars defeated the Hoyas earlier this year on Jan. 30, 73-69, at Verizon Center.

Copeland and the Hoyas know it will be a challenge for a team in desperate need of more signature victories to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But Monday’s blowout win has him and his teammates feeling good for Saturday.

“We needed a game like this to build our confidence up and be able to go there and get a win,” said Copeland.


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