Dec. 17, 2013
By Bobby Bancroft
WASHINGTON - In what has become a familiar storyline, Georgetown used a big second half performance on both ends of the court in defeating Elon, 85-76, to complete a perfect four-game homestand in front of 7,586 fans at the Verizon Center Tuesday night.
Senior guard Markel Starks (Accokeek, Md./Georgetown Prep) led a balanced Hoyas attack with 21 points while fellow backcourt running mate D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central/Oak Hill) added 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Junior center Joshua Smith (Kent, Wash./Kentwood/UCLA) scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and senior forward Nate Lubick (Southborough, Mass./St. Marks) tied a season high with 10 points.
Georgetown has now won six-straight games to improve to 7-2 on the season while Elon fell to 5-6.
Starks, who failed to hit a three-pointer when the Hoyas last played 10 days ago against Colgate, connected on 4-of-5 attempts from long distance. The senior guard hit three-straight three-pointers during a crucial 14-5 run to start the second half that saw the Hoyas erase a one-point halftime deficit and never trail again.
"There's going to be times where I'm going to have to score the ball and tonight was one of those nights," Starks said after the Hoyas won their 48th consecutive non-conference game at Verizon Center. "When you look at the stat sheet, the scoring was spread out. I think we did a very good job of sharing the ball and when it came time to make shots, I made shots."
With his four three-pointers, Starks moved past former Hoya greats Brandon Bowman and Allen Iverson into 14th place on the school's all-time list with 123.
"It was good," coach John Thompson III said about Starks. "It was good to see Markel make those shots. He's been kind of talking to himself a little bit so it was good for him finally to put the ball in the basket."
It wasn't just Starks who was able to put the ball in the basket as Georgetown shot a blistering 15-of-23 from the field in the second half - good for 62.5 percent - thanks in large part to a collective patience on the offensive end.
Four Hoyas - Lubick, junior forward Jabril Trawick (Philadelphia, Pa./Abington Friends), Smith-Rivera and Starks - each provided four assists as Georgetown assisted on 20-of-28 made field goals to go against a season low five turnovers.
Despite entering the game with the nation's third ranked three-point field goal percentage defense (24.2 percent), Georgetown was unable to hand le Elon from beyond the arc. The Phoenix connected on 8-of-17 long distance attempts after missing on their first three attempts in taking a 40-39 lead into the halftime break.
Smith, who played a season high 30 minutes, was a focal point for the Hoyas right after the break. His ability to establish position on the offensive end helped create space for shooters, something that didn't go unnoticed by his coach.
"Once we got Josh going a little bit everything else was easier not to say that it was ever easy, but it was easier," Thompson explained.
Smith had 11 of his 18 points after the break but his efforts on the other end of the court helped him stay on the court for most of the second half and even drew praise from his teammate.
"I think moving forward, he's going to be put in situations where a team is going to have a smaller lineup and we want to take advantage offensively, but defensively he can move his feet," said Starks. "He can play defense."
With Elon refusing to go away, Trawick (5 points) easily broke the Phoenix press and found Lubick for an easy uncontested dunk that brought the crowd to their feet and gave the Hoyas their biggest lead of the game at 78-67 with 1:40 remaining. Georgetown salted away the win by hitting seven of their final eight free throws in finishing 23-of-31 from the line for the game. Lucas Troutman and Tanner Samson led Elon with 18 points apiece as Elon finished the game shooting 27-of-54 from the field, including 13-of-29 from three-point range. Both numbers are season bests for a Georgetown opponent.
"When I say that's a good team, that's a good win," Thompson said. "That's a tournament team. We have a difficult first half, we get up a little bit, they make a run at us. That game played out almost like a conference game."
Georgetown is back in action on Saturday, Dec. 21, visiting No.18 Kansas in its first true road game of the season. The game tips off at noon (ET) and will be shown live on ESPN, with Jon Sciambi and Jay Bilas calling all of the action. Fans locally can tune in to Sports Talk 570 for the radio call of Rich Chvotkin.