- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2003

Georgetown senior swingman Gerald Riley needed just the first half to kick off the Hoyas’ season in style.

Riley scored 21 first-half points en route to a game-high 24 as the Hoyas crushed Grambling State 83-36 in the season opener for both teams last night before 5,437 at MCI Center.

Riley shot 5-for-5 from behind the 3-point arc and made eight of 12 shots overall. He fell two 3-pointers shy of tying Mark Tillmon’s single-game school record.

Georgetown’s first four baskets were 3-pointers, three by Riley. The Hoyas opened the game on fire, settling matters early. By halftime, the Hoyas led 58-16.

“It was over — that’s what we were looking to do tonight, come out and set an example, and that’s what we did,” Riley said.

Grambling State coach Larry Wright once played in the NBA — a fact hard to tell from the way he coached. As Georgetown was busy shelling his team into submission, Wright refused to pull out of his ineffective 2-3 zone defense.

“Larry is going on some of things we’ve done the last couple years,” Hoyas coach Craig Esherick said. “People have played zone effectively against us. Larry hasn’t had a chance to see us, and we haven’t had a chance to see them, so I think he was in that zone because he thought it would be effective. Without having a chance to scout our team, without having a chance to take a look at us, I think most people would have made that assumption.

Esherick had to like the fact that his young team played pretty well. Georgetown could have easily fallen to its opponent’s level but maintained its composure and methodically pummeled the visitors.

The Hoyas weren’t sloppy, took good shots, rebounded well and moved the ball in their halfcourt offense. In a few games last season, the Hoyas played down to their competition and looked rather underwhelming despite routing some of the nonconference chaff on their schedule.

That wasn’t the case last night. Riley, Georgetown’s top returning scorer, led the Hoyas as expected. After Riley, Georgetown received pretty good scoring balance from center Courtland Freeman (eight points), and forwards Darrel Owens (10 points) and Brandon Bowman (12 points).

It was hard to get a feel for Georgetown’s five new players because the competition was so bad. Freshmen guards Ray Reed and Matt Causey played like freshmen in their first game. Reed finished with seven points on 3-for-7 shooting, and Causey scored four points, all from the free throw line. As a team, the Hoyas shot 54 percent from the floor, making 27 of 50 shots.

Sophomore Ashanti Cook did a reasonable job as the Hoyas’ new playmaker. Cook handed out five assists and finished with four points.

Last season the Hoyas massacred the Tigers 99-46, Georgetown’s largest margin of victory. Coming into this season, many predicted this actually might be Grambling State’s season after four straight bottom-half finishes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), which is rated the weakest basketball conference of the 31 basketball leagues in Division I.

Point guard Maurice Searight, a Michigan transfer, is one reason many prognosticators think the Tigers might actually be legitimate this season. Searight finished with a game-high six assists but turned the ball over a game-high 10 times.

Last night’s performance by the Tigers did not support any theories that this team has improved. Grambling State turned the ball over 24 times and shot 23.2 percent (13 of 56) from the floor.

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