A drive to suc­ceed

Sopho­more does it all for Hoyas in the sec­ond half

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY LIZ CLARKE clarkel@wash­post.com

Markel Starks, above, scores a teamhigh 20 points and hits some cru­cial three-point­ers to help No. 20 Ge­orge­town beat Rut­gers, 69-63.

PIS­CAT­AWAY, N.J. — Sad­dled with foul trou­ble and sur­ren­der­ing far too many long-range bas­kets, the Ge­orge­town men’s bas­ket­ball team sim­ply couldn’t seize con­trol of its shootout with Rut­gers as the clock wound down Satur­day af­ter­noon. And the Hoyas’ ten­u­ous prospects took an omi­nous turn when for­ward Nate Lu­bick, who has been a stal­wart de­fender and steady of­fen­sive con­trib­u­tor all sea­son, fouled out with just more than six min­utes re­main­ing.

At that point, No. 20 Ge­orge­town trailed by one. And at that point, sopho­more Otto Porter Jr. got down to se­ri­ous work. He scored the next 10 points to vir­tu­ally hand-de­liver a 69- 63 vic­tory.

Porter scored 15 of his 19 points in the sec­ond half, in­clud­ing five of the game’s last seven in the fi­nal 75 sec­onds. Along the way he grabbed 14 of Ge­orge­town’s 29 to­tal re­bounds and dished out a team-high four as­sists when tight de­fen­sive cov­er­age made it tricky to get off his own shot.

“That’s what we’ve come to ex­pect,” Coach John Thompson III said of Porter. “He’s one of the best play­ers in the coun­try, and the best play­ers in the coun­try come through.”

Ge­orge­town’s fi­nal mar­gin was sup­plied by sopho­more cen­ter Mikael Hop­kins, who grabbed a key de­fen­sive re­bound, sank a pair of free throws and blocked a shot in a 16-sec­ond burst just be­fore the buzzer sounded. The 6-foot-9 Hop­kins, who has strug­gled with his con­fi­dence and form since fill­ing the big-man’s role this sea­son, fin­ished with a ca­reer-high 14 points.

There were other con­trib­u­tors. Ju­nior Markel Starks scored a team-high 20 points, coming through with three three-point­ers at piv­otal junc­tures. Fresh­man D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera added 13, while Aaron Bowen and Moses Ayegba sup­plied valu­able min­utes to com­pen­sate for Lu­bick’s loss and pre­vent Hop­kins from foul­ing out, as well.

“With Nate go­ing into foul trou­ble and Coach al­low­ing me to play a lit­tle bit longer, I was able to get in my groove,” Hop­kins said. “When I made a mis­take, he let me play through it.”

With the vic­tory, Ge­orge­town (17-4, 7-3 Big East) ex­tended its win­ning streak to five games while hand­ing Rut­gers (12-10, 3-8) its sixth con­sec­u­tive de­feat.

Ge­orge­town has won 11 of its last 12 games against Rut­gers. But the Scar­let Knights gave the Hoyas a se­ri­ous scare, romp­ing in the face of Ge­orge­town’s vaunted de­fense in the first half.

Paced by sopho­more guard Eli Carter, who scored a game-high 23 points on 8-of-18 shoot­ing, Rut­gers hit 52 per­cent of its at­tempts in the first half.

Lu­bick picked up a sec­ond foul less than six min­utes into the game and spent much of the pe­riod on the bench. While the Hoyas piled up fouls at an alarming clip, with Starks and Jabril Traw­ick join­ing Lu­bick with two each, Carter kept rain­ing three-point­ers, and the score was knot­ted at 33 at half­time.

Lu­bick re­turned to the lineup for the start of the sec­ond half, and Hop­kins scored the first four points of the pe­riod.

Lu­bick picked up this third and fourth fouls in a two-minute span and sat again with 13 min­utes 23 sec­onds re­main­ing,

Traw­ick im­me­di­ately fol­lowed with his fourth.

And the Rut­gers Ath­letic Cen­ter came to life when Carter drilled a fourth three-pointer to pull Rut­gers even at 44.

Ge­orge­town trailed 56-55 with 8:04 re­main­ing when Thompson sent Lu­bick back out with four fouls. The ju­nior feasted on a Rut­gers turnover, fir­ing a full-court pass to Starks, who con­verted yet an­other timely bas­ket. But Lu­bick was gone for good soon af­ter, pick­ing up his fifth foul with 6:11 to play.

Porter filled the breach, drilling a three-pointer to put Ge­orge­town ahead, 60-58. And he kept scor­ing, from the free throw line and in the paint, and got a steal and wres­tled over a loose ball for good mea­sure.


Mary­land vs. Vir­ginia

1 p.m., WTTG-5, WNUV-54.

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