In the esteemed fifth-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, they Hoyas pulled out a tough victory over VCU in a contest that saw Georgetown overcome the vaunted 'Havoc' press and head home with two straight wins after falling to Northeastern in the opening round.
Much like they did against Kansas State, the Hoyas came out with great energy and put pressure on the Rams right away. Georgetown jumped out to an 8-0 lead and held Shaka Smart's crew scoreless over the first five minutes of the game. John Thompson III employed a 2-3 zone to start and it proved effective as the Hoyas forced turnovers and scored easy transition buckets.
But as the first half wore on, the Rams intense style of defense began to bother the Hoyas. Georgetown became stagnant on offense and the turnovers began to mount and the Rams went on a 9-0 run and got back in the game. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera finally stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer with three and a half minutes left in the first half. After getting off to a great start, G'Town sputtered through the final ten minutes of the half and coughed up 14 turnovers which VCU turned into 15 points. The Rams also dominated at the stripe in the first half. The Hoyas didn't take a single free throw until there were five minutes left in the half and finished the first 20 minutes in a 19-3 FTA hole. Miraculously, the Hoyas only found themselves down 30-29 at the break.
The second half saw more stagnation on the offensive end, but D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera kept the Hoyas in the game by hitting a big 3-pointer a with 18:30 left in the first half. VCU's press continued to give Georgetown problems and the Rams went on a quick 8-0 run that put VCU up 48-41 with 14 minutes to go. Despite having senior point guard Markel Starks running the show, the Rams press continually flustered the Hoyas. Once again, though, Smith-Rivera bailed out the Hoyas and hit another big 3-pointer with under 12 minutes to go.
In a game that lasted three hours and saw 61 fouls called, Georgetown's free throw shooting down the stretch gave them the edge. While Starks struggled from the field, the point guard was clutch down the stretch and hit ten out of ten free throws. Clutch free throw shooting and tough defense that held the Rams scoreless for seven minutes led to a Georgetown victory over a top-10 team and a 2-1 record heading into a much needed six-day break.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera was tremendous. The sophomore guard finished with a game-high 26 points and was lights out from the field, finishing 8-12 and 5-6 from three. Smith-Rivera was, at times, the only offensive option when the VCU press tormented the Hoyas. Markel Starks finished with 23 points, five assists, five rebounds and seven turnovers. Joshua Smith finished with 17 points and was 9-of-10 from the stripe. The Hoyas shot 56 percent from the field, 54 percent from the field, and 86 percent from the stripe.
The Hoyas face Lipscomb on Saturday at the Verizon Center.