Hoyas' awful shooting almost proves costly
The shots again were not falling, and Georgetown knew early in Saturday afternoon's game against Towson exactly what type of game it needed to play in the second half if it wanted to avoid a stunning upset.
Pushed to the limit again by a regional rival intent on making a statement, the No. 15 Hoyas survived despite making just one field goal in the final 4:54 and held on for a 46-40 victory at Verizon Center.
Reminiscent of a recent 37-36 home win over Tennessee and in other ways a struggle against Mount St. Mary's on Nov. 24, Georgetown forced four turnovers down the stretch at the defensive end and contested three other Towson shots that missed. The Tigers (4-5) didn't score a point over the final 4:37.
"We can win a lot of different ways," Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. "We can win at a fast pace. We can win at a slow pace. We can win what peers may call pretty. But we can also win ugly. And I thought that in the second half we had to win ugly today just the way the first half went."
That was in large part because Georgetown (7-1) shot an unthinkable 5-for-30 (16.7 percent) in the first half and had just 17 points. Unlike the Tennessee game, in which Thompson's team missed more than a dozen shots inside of three feet that normally drop, Saturday's game featured a stagnant group.
Towson had a trump card: junior forward Jerrelle Benimon, a former Georgetown player who transferred two years ago. Thompson joked that Benimon might know his team's offense as well as any of his own players, and that showed as he constantly communicated to the other Tigers at the defensive end what the Hoyas were attempting from play to play. He seemed to relish that role against his former team.
But Benimon finished with just 11 points as the Tigers did little to take advantage of long Georgetown droughts. It didn't hurt that former teammate Nate Lubick covered him for most of the game and the Hoyas often ran two players at Benimon when Towson tried to get him an open look.
"It was a little weird just because I played with him freshman year and we relatively play the same position and kind of know each other's tendencies," Lubick said. "But it was a good experience."
The key play came late with the Hoyas up 43-40 and the shot clock winding down with 30 seconds to go. Guard Markel Starks drove the lane and hit a pull-up jumper to extend the advantage to five points. Georgetown added a free throw to seal the win.
The Hoyas shot a woeful 29.2 percent from the field and made just two of 16 3-pointers. That lack of offensive production is a concern for Thompson -- but he believes the pieces are in place to correct it, too.
"It's got to get better. I think in many ways we've got a lot of growing up to do," Thompson said. "We're very immature offensively, and we got a lot of guys that are thinking and trying to figure where to go, what reads to make. But it's something we have to work on."