The Hoyas took a page from the national champion Georgetown sailing team, corrected course and steered clear of disaster by getting their season back on track in Newark against the Seton Hall Pirates. No doubt who controlled the waters in the Port Newark on February 10th. Some said the season was on the brink, some thought the Hoyas were heading towards the dreaded Bubble, but junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (DSR), freshman forward Isaac Copeland and their mates had a response for the doubters on Tuesday night–Storm the Hall!
Doubtful that the team read my post from Tuesday afternoon when this Jersey Girl gave them some biased and locally flavored advice, but it seems they responded accordingly. DSR regained his touch and led the team with 23 points, and Copeland had a career-high 20 points and 8 rebounds in his second start this season to lead the once faltering Georgetown (3 losses in their prior 4 games) to a blowout of sinking Seton Hall, 86-67.
This is however, a Blowout with a Caveat. That caveat is that the Hoyas let the Hall back in the game after surging in the first half, hitting 11 of their first 16 shots to take a 20-point lead. Down 27-7, the Pirates regrouped, fought back and tied the game at 44 early in the second half on a 3-pointer by Pirates junior guard and star Sterling Gibbs. However, that night the Hoyas had a second surge in them and after DSR hit a 3-pointer to put Georgetown ahead at 47-44, Copeland then took over, scoring the next 12 points for the Hoyas, capping a sensational series with a 3-pointer followed by a three-point play for a 59-48 lead with 12 minutes left in the game.
Senior stalwart Jabril Trawick added 12 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists to contribute to Georgetown’s second win in five games, after dropping two at home to Xavier and Providence and suffering an embarrassing blowout in Philly at the hands of the Big East leading Villanova Wildcats. The Cats now look like a lock for regular season champion after beating the Friars in a battle at the Dunk on Wednesday night, 74-68. The Friars went down fighting and they too look like they belong in the top of the conference pack, with Butler and Georgetown, if the Hoyas, now 16-8, 8-5 Big East, continue to play as well as they did against the Hall and in the first matchup with Villanova.
Against the Pirates, the Hoyas shot 52.5 percent from the field, 42% from the arc and 78% at the line. Outstanding, Hoyas!
Other ProminentStatLines: 18 Hoya assists, 10 steals and only 10 turnovers, with 38 rebounds to Hall’s 33.
The Hall in Freefall: Gibbs hit his season average, 17 points, to lead Seton Hall, who fell to 15-9, 5-7, after a promising start to the season where they spent some time ranked in the Top 25. Freshman forward Angel Delgado added 12 points and 15 rebounds. The Pirates lost their third straight and sixth in eight games and may be watching their NCAA tournament hopes fade.
Immediately after the game, Pirate sophomore guard Jaren Sina, who was offered by Indiana and other top schools, announced that he will transfer out of The Hall. Looks like Coach Kevin Willard is dealing with some internal issues that are playing out on the court.
ProminentPlayer of the Game: While DSR had 23 points, expected of the Big East pre-season POY, Isaac Copeland deserves the ProminentPlay Game Ball. With more games like this, this Hoya team may be going somewhere in the BET and the NCAA tournament. If Copeland and White can continue to improve and play as well as they have demonstrated, this team is deeper than any Hoya team in recent memory.
Need I Sing the Praises of Aaron Bowen Again?: Bowen provided another strong performance for the Hoyas off the bench. In just 15 minutes of play, AB had 7 points (3 for 6 from the field, 1-1 from the line), 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
Bench Clearing: No, not a Brawl! Rather, the Hoyas cleared the bench on the road so Trey Mourning, Riyan Williams and David Allen all got some time (a minute or so) at the Pru Center. I think we all want to see more of Trey, soon!
Next for the Hoyas: The Hoyas host the St. John’s Red Storm at the Phone Booth on February 17th, and have a week between games, which Coach JTIII said the team will use to improve their game.
One player who needs to focus on improvement is senior center Josh Smith. Hoya fans continue to blame the Refs for undeserving foul calls, but that won’t help the cause–it’s a fact of life that Josh has to live with as the Big East certified Refs haven’t gotten the Memo. Starter Smith played only 12 minutes, had 4 points, 2 rebounds and a turnover. Other Hoya Big Mikael Hopkins (who lost his starting spot to Copeland), played only 16 minutes, with 7 rebounds, 3 points, 3 turnovers and 4 fouls. Given Josh’s and Mikael’s play of late, the Hoyas may be relying mightily on Copeland and his freshmen mates, Paul White LJ Peak, for scoring and rebounding as the regular season comes to a close and the post-season awaits. White, in 19 minutes, played efficiently and had 5 points, 3 boards, 3 assists and 2 blocks, the only two of the team.