- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2003

The turnover machine masquerading as Elon’s basketball team transformed the Georgetown Hoyas into an offensive juggernaut yesterday.

Georgetown (7-0) scored 40 points off 32 turnovers while overwhelming Elon 91-70 yesterday before 5,683 at MCI Center.

With the Hoyas in the middle of exams, Elon (3-4) was a perfectly incompetent opponent. Georgetown won’t play its next game until Saturday, when Howard comes calling.

“I’ve got finals on my mind, [so] I’m glad it went the way it did,” said Hoyas forward Brandon Bowman, who finished with 19 points. “I would rather have this than a real tough game. … That’s what we want to do, just go out there and take a team’s heart from the beginning.”

Georgetown’s fullcourt pressure set the tone early. The Hoyas swarmed the ball, and the Phoenix obligingly made poor ball decisions like trying to pass over the Hoyas’ press. By halftime, Georgetown led 50-34.

The press may be the Hoyas’ secret weapon. Of their seven opponents, only Coastal Carolina didn’t turn over the ball more than 20 times.

If the Hoyas can play this scrappy sort of ball against Big East teams, they could surprise some people. As yesterday’s game indicated, Georgetown can generate plenty of offense with its suffocating defense.

“Any team can have a terrible night if you pressure them the right way,” said senior co-captain Gerald Riley, who scored a game-high 28 points. “We scouted them fairly well on tape and stuff, and we were able to carry it over into the game.”

The Hoyas matched their season high with 17 steals, six by sophomore point guard Ashanti Cook. In their halfcourt defensive sets, the Hoyas mixed defenses with varying success, but it was their pressure in the open court that ruined Elon’s afternoon.

For the game, the Phoenix shot a respectable 50 percent from the floor and was even better beyond the 3-point arc, making nine of 17 shots (52.9 percent). That suggested Georgetown’s halfcourt defense could have been better.

However, Elon’s 32 turnovers were more than its baskets (28) and tied the modern Georgetown record for most by an opponent.

“I really think we can be a good pressing team,” coach Craig Esherick said. “Besides our 3-point shooting, I think our fullcourt press really bothered them and really got us some easy baskets.”

With no starter taller than 6-foot-6, Elon didn’t offer an intimidating presence in the paint either. Georgetown’s guards fearlessly penetrated the lane all game. When Elon went zone, Georgetown worked the ball around on the perimeter and found open shooters.

As a team, the Hoyas made nine of 20 3-pointers (45 percent). Riley had the hot hand, going 3-for-4. Bowman converted three of seven shots from behind the arc.

On the inside, the smallish Hoyas finally enjoyed an advantage. Coming in, Georgetown had won the battle on the glass against just three opponents, but it outrebounded the Phoenix 38-35 with 24 offensive rebounds. Bowman, a 6-8 sophomore, led Georgetown’s rebounders with 10 and recorded the first double-double of his career.

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