- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Georgetown’s victory last night was vintage John Thompson … the elder.

Taking a page out of his father’s book on a night when the Hoyas were cold from the perimeter throughout most of the game, John Thompson III and his charges outhustled, outscrapped and simply outgutted pesky Rutgers 62-55 in front of 6,905 fans at MCI Center.

It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was profoundly ugly. But it also proved the young Hoyas (10-4, 2-1 Big East) are capable of winning games in which they don’t drill a dozen 3-pointers or finesse an opponent into submission with backdoor cuts, screens and layups.

It proved the younger Thompson is more than just an X’s and O’s technician with a Pops-meets-Princeton pedigree. It proved he also has a healthy dose of the old man’s passion and a similar ability to inspire his players to dig a little deeper than the opposition.

“These guys were in a couple of positions where they could have packed it in. But this group continues to fight and continues to try and fix whatever rut we’re in,” said Thompson, whose Hoyas next travel to Villanova on Saturday. “I think when we got down, the guys did a good job of not panicking and just maybe picked up the intensity and started leaning on each other a little more.”

For nearly the first 30 minutes, the Hoyas didn’t look capable of catching a guard-centric Rutgers squad well-schooled in defending the Princeton offense after playing both the Tigers and Air Force earlier this season. The Hoyas were down 26-18 at intermission. And they were lucky to be that close after committing more turnovers (10) than they made field goals (seven) en route to a season-low first-half scoring total.

Leading scorer Brandon Bowman (11 points, 11 rebounds), who committed five first-half turnovers, looked out of sync. Freshman tower Roy Hibbert, held scoreless in nine first-half minutes, looked completely lost. And junior captain Ashanti Cook (0-for-6 from 3-point range) looked helpless from behind the arc.

With a little more than 13 minutes remaining, the margin was 36-28 when freshman sparkplug Jon Wallace returned to the lineup carrying three fouls on his back and a fire in his belly.

Wallace, who drew a technical foul for his physical defense, latched onto Rutgers leading scorer Quincy Douby (five second-half points). Fellow freshman Jeff Green became the focal point of the Hoyas’ offense as well as an interior enforcer. Senior swingman Darrel Owens, often criticized for his reticence to step to the fore in the clutch, drilled a pair of huge 3s. The Hoyas suddenly employed a fullcourt trapping defense. And the entire tenor of the game instantly seemed to change.

“If you play with heart, that kind of overrules everything else,” said Wallace, who finished with 11 points, three assists and no turnovers. “If you keep coming at your opponent nonstop, sooner or later you’re going to come out on top.”

That was the philosophy the elder Thompson employed for 27 years on the Hilltop. And last night, that theory was born out in irrefutable fashion.

To counter its 5-for-22 shooting from 3-point range, Georgetown got every loose ball in the second half and decimated Rutgers (6-6, 0-2) on the boards, outrebounding the Scarlet Knights 26-9 in the second half.

The Hoyas pulled level at 44-44 on a jumper from Cook with 5:39 to play. And two minutes later, Owens gave the Hoyas their first lead of the game at 50-47 with a gutsy step-back 3-pointer.

Aside from guard Juel Wiggan (23 points), no Rutgers player could get a shot off, much less score, against a smothering Hoyas defense that saw Georgetown turn the entire second half into one inexorable run.

And just as he has been all season, Green was a monster in the middle, adding 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and five blocks to the effort and tormenting every pivot player Rutgers put in front of him. Green stuck a dagger in the Scarlet Knights with a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 1:25 remaining to put the Hoyas up 55-47.

Owens then put an exclamation point on the proceedings with 53 seconds left, converting a fast-break layup despite an intentional foul by Rutgers center Byron Joynes.

“Our defense just came together at the end to help us pull out a hard-nosed victory,” said Owens (14 points, seven rebounds).

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