- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

Big Roy slammed the slump.

Georgetown center Roy Hibbert erupted for a career-high 25 points last night at MCI Center, almost single-handedly carrying the Hoyas to a 66-50 skein-snapping victory against overmatched Rutgers.

With their three-game losing streak history, the 23rd-ranked Hoyas (18-7, 9-5 Big East) have two days to prepare for a noon tip Saturday against slightly resurgent Syracuse (19-8, 7-6) before closing the regular season next week against the only winless squad in Big East play (South Florida — 6-20, 0-13).

“We needed that. Last week was a long week, and I’m very happy that we won, to put it mildly,” obviously relieved Georgetown coach John Thompson III said after his team guaranteed itself a winning Big East record — a virtual NCAA tournament ticket. “Roy played well. We went inside, and they had a lot of trouble handling Roy.”

Last night’s game had a classic old-style Georgetown flair to it as the Hoyas locked down on defense and employed a dump-down offense against the Scarlet Knights (15-12, 5-9), who have struggled on the interior since losing freshman frontcourt force JR Inman to a broken leg. After floundering on the offensive end in consecutive losses to West Virginia, Marquette and Villanova, the Hoyas desperately needed a hero. And with Inman out and the Hoyas struggling from behind the arc, Hibbert was the logical choice and happy to oblige.

The 7-foot-2, 283-pound mountain from Adelphi scored the team’s first four points on a nifty turnaround banker and a follow-up jam. He eclipsed his previous career scoring high (23 points against James Madison) and added eight rebounds and two blocks to carry the Hoyas, who led 34-20 at halftime and never were challenged in the second half.

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” said Hibbert, who looked like the schoolyard bully by connecting on 10 of his 13 field goal attempts against the shorter, slower Scarlet Knights. “It’s a battle out there every day.”

If Rutgers had no answer on the defensive end for Hibbert, its lone answer on the offensive end, junior guard Quincy Douby (29 points), was a virtual solo show. Georgetown employed a box-and-one against Douby, the Big East’s leading scorer, during most of the game, holding him to just 10 points in the first half and forcing him to use 20 shots.

And unlike Hibbert, who received double-digit scoring assistance from senior swingman Darrel Owens (11 points, five assists) and sophomore point man Jonathan Wallace (10 points, six rebounds, six assists), Douby had no help on the offensive end. Aside from Douby, no other Rutgers player made more than two field goals. Douby’s teammates finished with just 21 points, shooting 5-for-25 from the field.

But if the victory relieved a significant amount of pressure by dismissing the specter of last season’s five-game swoon to the finish line, a number of the same problems that plagued the Hoyas in their recent three-game slide still were evident last night. While Owens emerged from his recent shooting slump by burying three 3-pointers, fellow seniors Brandon Bowman and Ashanti Cook continued their spotty play of late.

Cook’s off night (three points) was largely the result of early foul trouble, which resulted in just 21 minutes of playing time. But Bowman, who led the team in scoring a week ago, continued his spiral into oblivion, following a seven-point effort at Marquette and a four-point afternoon at Villanova with his first scoreless game of the season. The Hoyas will need all three seniors to show up for success Saturday against Syracuse and beyond, but at least Owens seems to have found his stroke.

“I’m a shooter. It’s something I predicate my game on, so obviously it’s important,” Owens said. “But coach is always telling me not to limit myself, to contribute in other ways. Today I got some offensive rebounds, played defense, got my teammates involved, and my shot started falling at the end. That’s usually how it works for me, and it was good to see.”

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