- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2005

HARRISONBURG, Va. — Georgetown found an unexpectedly feisty foe lying in ambush last night.

Courtesy of some clutch late shooting and another monster night from sophomore center Roy Hibbert, Georgetown outlasted a surprisingly solid James Madison squad 73-66 before a packed house of 5,566 at the JMU Convocation Center.

The Hoyas (2-0) now get a brief Thanksgiving respite before returning to the court Saturday against Vanderbilt at MCI Center.

“I don’t want to say it played out exactly how I thought it would, but I expected a well-coached team that plays hard in a crazy environment, and that’s exactly what we got,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson III after watching the Hoyas respond to repeated salvos from the upset-hungry home team. “I knew it was going to be a challenge. That’s why you schedule games like this [-] to test your team. I’m just glad our guys found ways to win.”

A handful of Hoyas keyed last night’s scrappy victory. Hibbert carried the squad through the first half, dropping his first five shots and scoring the team’s first 15 points en route to staking the team to a 42-32 halftime lead.

For the second consecutive game, the new-look Hibbert (23 points, six rebounds) was absolutely unstoppable in the paint, punishing the smaller Dukes (0-1) inside as he rolled to a second straight career scoring night. Perhaps most impressively, Hibbert converted all nine of his free throws on a night when the Hoyas made 19 of 22.

“I would rather see my name in the rebounding leaders than the scoring leaders, but this is why I came to Georgetown,” said Hibbert. “It’s always been a great big man school. People think of Patrick [Ewing], Dikembe [Mutombo] and Alonzo [Mourning], but I want to make my mark, too. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m improving.”

When Hibbert cooled after intermission against the Dukes, who shot an impressive 45.5 percent from the field to stay in the game, Georgetown sophomore point man Jon Wallace and senior off-guard Ashanti Cook ducked under the blue and gray yoke. As the team’s two primary ball-handlers, the pair combined to play 70 minutes, scoring 26 points and committing just two turnovers against JMU’s relentless fullcourt press. Cook has had his moments in the uniform over the years, but Wallace rarely has looked better at the controls of the Georgetown offense.

“I probably should have given Jon a break, because there were times out there when I thought he looked tired, but he really did do a good job tonight, and I thought the flow of the offense was much better [than it was in the opener against Navy],” said Thompson. “That said, our transition defense was atrocious.”

Georgetown’s defense wasn’t nearly as smothering as against the Mids, but the Dukes deserve some serious credit for causing the Hoyas trouble. Smallish forwards David Cooper (12 points, seven rebounds) and Juwann James were extremely athletic and active, and the Hoyas had major problems keeping them off the baseline all night. James also completely locked down Georgetown’s Jeff Green on the offensive end. Green, last season’s co-Big East Rookie of the Year, scored a career-low four points against the Dukes.

But Green still found a way to factor into the game’s key sequence. After James Madison cut the Hoyas’ lead to 59-55 with 6:20 remaining on a short-range jumper from Cooper, Georgetown’s Darrel “D.J.” Owens came out of hibernation to push the Hoyas to victory. After a near-silent game, the 6-foot-7 senior sniper from Napoleanville, La., hit a pair of free throws and then buried consecutive 3-pointers to basically bury the home team.

Both triples came after the Hoyas had worked the clock down and set up their arc assassin. And the second, which gave Georgetown a 67-56 lead with just 2:31 remaining, came at the end of a beautiful two-man sequence between Owens and Green.

“It’s a drive-drill play that me and Jeff work a lot on in practice,” said Owens, who waited until three seconds remained on the clock before ducking behind a perfect screen from Green and dooming the Dukes. “Our offense is based on that play, and I always tell Jeff that when we need it, come to me and I’m going to knock it down for him in crunch time. I would like to warm up earlier in the game, but it just seems like I keep finding it right at the end. As long as we keep winning, that’s all that matters.”

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