As the saying goes, you can't teach height. Fortunately for against Colgate, Georgetown had size on their side. Fortunately for the Hoyas, the nation's top 3-point shooting team never found their range.
Josh Smith scored 14 points, Markel Starks 12 and Nate Lubick had 10 as the Hoyas fended off the Raiders for a 61-55 victory on Saturday afternoon, their fifth straight win.
The Hoyas' (6-2) big men offset a woeful perimeter shooting performance cleaning up one misfire after another against a plucky mid-major unafraid of the big bad Big East program. Smith had four of Georgetown's 15 offensive rebounds and the Hoyas outscored Colgate 38-20 in the paint.
The usually potent backcourt pairing of D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Starks clanked throughout as Georgetown finished 1 of 15 from 3-point range.
Georgetown never trailed and scored the game's first 10 points, but Colgate (4-3) certainly made the game uncomfortable despite not making its usual array of long distance attempts. Austin Tillotson led the Raiders with 21 points.
Colgate, which entered as the only Division 1 team making over half its 3-point attempts, used a 9-0 run to make it 43-38 with 9:21 remaining. Fouled shooting from beyond the arc, Murphy Burnatowski made three free throws for a 55-50 score with 2:32 remaining. The Raiders' rather Princeton-y offense layup with 39 seconds made it 56-52 with 39 seconds.
The Hoyas made 6 of 8 free throws inside the final 50 seconds and 15 of 20 in the second half after only five attempts before halftime. Smith, a 64 percent free throw shooter on the season, made a pair with 16 seconds remaining.
Georgetown's inability to shake the Patriot League school felt eerily similar to recent NCAA Tournament mishaps. Well, minus the neutral site, packed stands and the fact that the Hoyas pulled out the victory. To be clear, almost all of what was just said in those previous two sentences is not a good thing. At least, as Thompson noted postgame, the Hoyas can hopefully learn from a win.
Scoring struggles: All involved would surely rather forget about the first half offense.
Georgetown rattled Colgate defensively for the opening 11 minutes, holding the Raiders without a point until Austin Tillotson's 3-pointer. By the point, the Raiders were 0 of 8 from 3, missed all 11 attempts overall and committed six turnovers. Tillotson would quickly make two more 3-pointers, keeping the Raiders close. He would not attempt another 3-pointer the rest of the game.
With little in the way of aesthetically pleasing production, Georgetown forged a 10-0 lead before Tillotson's first basket. The visuals on the court and certainly on the court did not improve for the Hoyas as the half progressed.
At one point, both teams were 0 of 8 from 3, but the Hoyas had offensive rebounding and superior athleticism on their size. Three of Georgetown's first six field goals were on putbacks - two by Smith. Only one the Hoyas nine first-half field goals was not a layup.
Despite that interior and speed advantage, the Hoyas only attempted five free throws before halftime with a 21-15 lead.
Stepping up: Georgetown's most consistent performer in the game, Lubick made of 5 of 8 attempts and matched Smith-Rivera for team-high honors with seven rebounds.
Misses: The cold hard stats are as follows: Smith-Rivera, Georgetown's leading scorer, finished 1 of 8 from the field and missed three of four from beyond the arc. He did not register a point in the first half. The sophomore guard's only basket came with 17:30 remaining in the game on a 3-pointer danced around the rim before falling.
He was not the only errant culprit. Starks went 3 of 13, 0 for 5 on 3's. Jabril Trawick finished 2 of 6, Reggie Cameron missed all three of his shots.
Most games Smith-Rivera and Starks lead the offense, certainly from the outside. Most games the Hoyas would not survive a combined 4 of 21.
Notable: For the first time anyone in the media room could recall, no players joined Thompson in the postgame press conference.
On deck: The Hoyas are off until December 17 when they close a four-game homestand against Elon.