Undersized Fairfield provided the perfect tonic for Georgetown’s post-Illinois hangover.
Three days after absorbing a no-chance, double-digit beating from the Illini, the Hoyas exorcised some angst against overmatched Fairfield at MCI Center yesterday, authoring a tip-to-whistle 76-51 drubbing of the Stags that was even uglier than the final score suggests.
Paced by a game-high 16 points from senior forward Brandon Bowman, the Hoyas (4-2) sprinted to a 27-point lead less than five minutes into the second half, allowing coach John Thompson III to spend the bulk of the half resting his regulars, evaluating his four freshmen and rewarding junior bench man Sead Dizdarevic and the team’s three walk-ons.
The Hoyas now have the better part of the week off to focus on exams before returning to the court Saturday against Stetson at McDonough Arena.
“I guess you could say I’ve been in a little bit of a slump the whole year,” said Bowman, the 6-foot-9 swingman who led the Hoyas in scoring last season (15.1 points) but entered yesterday’s play with just two double-digit efforts this season (13 against Vanderbilt and 10 against Oregon). “Coach tells me I haven’t been working as hard as I can. He’s constantly been on me about that, and I guess that contributes the most to [my slump].
“The coaches and the players on the court are going to go with guys who are hitting shots and who are playing defense, and I really haven’t been up to par with those. This game really gave me a chance to find my rhythm offensively and defensively. My shots were falling, and I found my stroke.”
The entire team basically found its stroke against the Stags (1-6), who didn’t start a player taller than 6-4 and opted to compensate with a sagging zone defense that dared Georgetown to prove its perimeter marksmanship.
“We had to pick our poison, and you look at their weaknesses, and 3-point shooting percentages would be one of them,” seventh-year Fairfield coach Tim O’Toole said. “So we dropped into that zone to try and take away their big guys [sophomore bruisers Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green], and they answered by cutting us apart from outside. They were phenomenal.”
After Bowman, who made four of his six 3-pointers, drilled the team’s 10th 3 with 15:18 left to put the Hoyas ahead 53-26, Thompson had seen enough from his six staples and began substituting en masse.
“It felt good to have a game like this,” Thompson said. “When they went to that zone, we did a pretty good job of throwing it in and then throwing it back out, sharing, whipping it around and knocking down shots. … We were fortunate to get a lead there, so we could get some guys some work.”
To that end, Georgetown’s lineup for the last quarter of the game consisted largely of the 6-9 Dizdarevic surrounded by the team’s four freshmen — guards Jessie Sapp and Josh Thornton and forwards Marc Egerson and Octavius Spann. Both Thornton and Spann logged their first minutes of the season against the Stags, and each of the four freshmen had their moments. Perhaps the guards looked the best, however.
Sapp ran the point for extended stretches and finished without a turnover. And Thornton, who came to the Hilltop with a reputation as an arc assassin, converted a long 3-pointer on his first field goal attempt for the blue and gray and finished with seven points in just six minutes.
“He hardly ever misses in practice,” Bowman said of Thornton. “He likes to shoot, and there’s nothing wrong with that, because he can put up some numbers. He’s not bashful.”