Ge­orge­town’s de­fense slows down Mar­quette in much-needed win.


The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY GENE WANG­

With bul­letin-board ma­te­rial fu­el­ing one of its most com­plete per­for­mances this sea­son, the Ge­orge­town men’s bas­ket­ball team took a mod­est step to­ward NCAA tour­na­ment rel­e­vance with an 80-62 win against vis­it­ing Mar­quette on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

The Hoyas got a sea­son-high 23 points and eight re­bounds from sopho­more cen­ter Jessie Govan in end­ing a two-game slide. Ju­nior guard L.J. Peak and grad­u­ate­trans­fer guard Rod­ney Pryor added 20 points each in front of an an­nounced crowd of 11,386 at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter.

Ge­orge­town im­proved to 10-1 this sea­son when those three reach dou­ble fig­ures in the same game — and this time, the trio outscored the Golden Ea­gles by them­selves. In the process, the Hoyas earned a series split with Mar­quette, which had beaten them, 76-66, in their Big East opener in Mil­wau­kee and had been ranked ahead of them in sev­eral of the standard NCAA tour­na­ment met­rics.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter that first meet­ing, Golden Ea­gles guard Ja­juan John­son had said dur­ing an on-air tele­vi­sion in­ter­view that he thought Ge­orge­town was “lazy” de­fen­sively.

In re­sponse, the Hoyas held the Big East’s No. 2 scor­ing of­fense to more than 20 points be­low its av­er­age Satur­day. Mar­quette also went 3 for 14 (21 per­cent) from three-point range af­ter en­ter­ing ranked first in the con­fer­ence from be­yond the arc (42.4).

“We had some be­hind-closed­door mo­ti­va­tion for this game be­cause [of ] stuff go­ing around about de­fense,” said Pryor, who chipped in 10 re­bounds for a dou­ble-dou­ble, along with two of Ge­orge­town’s five steals. “We re­ally wanted to be at­ten­tive go­ing into the game plan the coaches had for us, so I think we did a great [job] of do­ing that and stay­ing com­posed and stay­ing with each other and com­mu­ni­cat­ing re­ally well.”

The Hoyas (14-12, 5-8 Big East) were crisp of­fen­sively as well, shoot­ing 54 per­cent from the field and making 6 of 12 shots from three-point range, and they out­re­bounded the Golden Ea­gles 3928 in their fi­nal game be­fore a rare bye week. Ge­orge­town will not play again un­til it faces 23rdranked Creighton on Feb. 19 in Omaha. The Hoyas won the first meet­ing, 71-51, on Jan. 25.

On Satur­day, Ge­orge­town all but set­tled the out­come against the Golden Ea­gles (15-10, 6-7) by scor­ing 11 con­sec­u­tive points bridg­ing the halves. Mar­quette never drew closer than 10 points the rest of the way, los­ing for the fourth time in five games. The Golden Ea­gles’ only vic­tory in that stretch came against last-place DePaul.

The Hoyas’ lead grew to 14 points for the first time in the sec­ond half thanks to five in a row com­ing out of the break. Govan had the last three on a foul shot and then a layup, lead­ing Mar­quette Coach Steve Wo­j­ciechowski to call a time­out with 18:12 left.

The Golden Ea­gles scored six of the next eight points, but Ge­orge­town did the same soon af­ter to claim a 52-38 cush­ion with 13:18 to play. Re­serve for­ward Akoy Agau then made two foul shots, and Peak made 1 of 2 to ex­pand the lead to 55-40 with 11:29 re­main­ing in the game.

“We had a chance to get off to a great start,” Wo­j­ciechowski said. “We missed a cou­ple make­able shots. I think that took a bit of the wind out of our sails.”

Ge­orge­town had car­ried a 41-32 lead into in­ter­mis­sion on the strength of an 11-4 push to close the half. Peak scored the first seven points of the run, and af­ter Pryor and Kaleb John­son each made 1 of 2 free throws, fresh­man guard Ja­gan Mosely com­pleted the first-half scor­ing with a tip-in.

The clos­est the Golden Ea­gles came late in the first half was at 30-28, im­me­di­ately be­fore Ge­orge­town’s clos­ing surge. The Hoyas lim­ited Mar­quette to 39 per­cent shoot­ing in the first half, in­clud­ing 1 for 7 (14 per­cent) from three-point range, and held a 24-14 mar­gin in re­bound­ing.

An early run, be­gin­ning with a layup by Peak, gave Ge­orge­town a nine-point lead mid­way through the first half and set the tone. The hosts also got con­sec­u­tive layups from sopho­more for­ward Mar­cus Der­rick­son and Pryor, as well as a Govan three-pointer from the top of the arc, on the way to open­ing a 20-11 ad­van­tage.

But the key, the Hoyas agreed, came at the other end.

“I thought our de­fense to­day was re­ally good,” Ge­orge­town Coach John Thomp­son III said. “That is a very good of­fen­sive team. Any­one that’s watched them un­der­stands that they’re good of­fen­sive play­ers and they do good stuff, so to speak. To only let them at­tempt 14 threes, we’ve got to give our guys credit for how hard they worked.”

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