- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 20, 2007

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Georgetown proved last night that sometimes size trumps speed.

The Hoyas completed a road sweep of the Big East’s New Jersey schools by overpowering press-happy Seton Hall 74-58 last night at Continental Airlines Arena. The victory elevates the Hoyas (13-5, 3-2 Big East) back among the league’s leaders as the team returns home for a two-game set next week against DePaul (Wednesday) and Cincinnati (Saturday).

Entering last night’s game, there was much anxiety on the Hilltop surrounding Georgetown’s ability, or lack thereof, to handle the fullcourt press. After a woeful performance against Villanova’s pressure in a loss last week, the concern was that Georgetown would struggle mightily on the road against a Seton Hall bunch considerably quicker than the Wildcats, who gave the Hoyas fits at home.

Those fears, it turned out, proved to be completely unfounded. The Hoyas didn’t commit their first turnover against the Seton Hall press until less than seven minutes were left in a game that was never in doubt after Georgetown bolted to a 20-7 lead over the diminutive Pirates (11-7, 3-3).

“Our guys were very poised and pretty attentive at seeing when their teammates were in trouble,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “We handled their pressure better than I anticipated.”

Seton Hall, on the other hand, could not handle Georgetown’s size.

The Pirates announced before the game that starting center Grant Billmeier would miss the rest of the regular season after tearing an ACL in Wednesday’s victory over Providence. While Billmeier provided little in the way of offense, his 6-foot-10 frame represented Seton Hall’s only legitimate frontcourt presence.

Without Billmeier last night, the Pirates’ tallest starter was 6-7 forward Stan Gaines, giving Seton Hall little hope against a Georgetown frontline of 7-2 center Roy Hibbert (10 points, three blocks) and forwards Jeff Green (6-9) and DaJuan Summers (6-8).

Georgetown finished the game with a 39-11 rebounding advantage. Seton Hall’s 11 rebounds marked the lowest total for a team in the history of Big East play.

“I’m sure there were a couple of nights at Princeton when we only had 11,” Thompson said.

First-year Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez was astounded at his team’s inability to rebound against the Hoyas.

“I’ve been a head coach for eight years, and I’ve never seen a stat when we got beat on the boards 39-11,” Gonzalez said. “We just didn’t have the bodies, the energy, the juice, to play a team like Georgetown tonight.”

Given Georgetown’s massive size advantage on the low block, perhaps the game’s biggest surprise was that the game’s high scorer was the shortest player on the team’s roster: 6-1 junior point guard Jonathan Wallace. He scored a career-high 21 points to pace the Hoyas, knocking down seven of his 11 attempts from the field.

Wallace also played a pivotal role in breaking Seton Hall’s pressure defense.

“They were so intent upon pressing us in the backcourt and trying to stop our big guys in the halfcourt that they were giving me scoring opportunities,” Wallace said. “I take no real pride in the personal scoring, but I am pleased with how we handled their pressure. You hear people saying that this is a team that can’t handle the fullcourt press. Even though we have a quiet confidence that is above all that, it gives you a challenge.”

Courtesy of that pressure, Georgetown had myriad secondary transition opportunities after crossing the timeline. And the player who took best advantage of those chances was Summers. The freshman recorded the first double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) of his career against the Pirates, nearly matching the home team’s rebounding total by himself.

“I’m way more comfortable than I was at the beginning of the season,” said Summers, who scored 17 points for the second straight game. “Earlier in the year I was stressing a little, but now I’m just letting the game come to me and having fun.”

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