Georgetown improves three-point shooting, beats Wright State, 88-70

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Georgetown Coach John Thompson III is in midseason form as his Hoyas dismantle Wright State at Verizon Center. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
November 13, 2013

Nearly 7,000 miles from home and playing on a slippery court with one basket askew, Georgetown was hapless from beyond the arc in last weekend’s season-opening defeat to Oregon.

Wednesday at Verizon Center, the Hoyas’ starting guards were on target from the start, combing for 48 points in an 88-70 victory over Wright State that made for a feel-good home opener.

Sophomore D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera paced all scorers with 25 points and senior co-captain Markel Starks poured in 23.

“It was what we expected of them,” Coach John Thompson III said of his starting back court. “The last game was not who we are — who they are. For them to come out and play like they did today, was what we expect.”

And the perimeter game wasn’t the only area in which the Hoyas made strides in the wake of their loss to 19th-ranked Oregon, a game in which they made only 1 of 15 three-point shots.

Wednesday against Wright State (1-1), the Hoyas handily won the rebounding battle, grabbing 40 boards to the Raiders’ 31.

They defended better, fouling out Wright State’s leading scorer, A.J. Pacher, while managing to stay out of foul trouble themselves.

And they showed encouraging signs of being able to compensate for the offensive firepower lost with the departure of Big East player of the year Otto Porter Jr. to the NBA at the end of last season. Playing his first significant minutes of the season, freshman Reggie Cameron drilled the first three three-point shots he took and finished with nine points.

Junior transfer Joshua Smith had an uneven outing, limited to just five minutes in the second half after picking up a third foul fairly early in the period. Smith finished with six points and four rebounds in 17 minutes’ work and had four turnovers.

But Thompson seemed satisfied overall with the second performance from the Hoyas’ 6-foot-10, 350-pound center, whose mere presence in the post poses a daunting challenge for opponents.

Wright State, which won 23 games last season and was picked to finish second in the Horizon League, had held its previous opponent to 49 points. The Hoyas scored more than that in the first half alone. And Raiders Coach Billy Donlon heaped praise on the Hoyas’ guards afterward.

“Starks is a really good player,” Donlon said. “When he goes for 23, and Smith-Rivera gets 25, that’s a big-time night against some pretty good perimeter defenders.”

Starks scored the first five points for the Hoyas.

Off back-to-back Wright State turnovers, Smith-Rivera hit from long range. With the Hoyas leading 19-7, Cameron entered the game and made his first three.

The Hoyas (1-1) connected on four of their first five three-point attempts. Another by Starks capped an 8-0 run that made it 42-19. At that point, Georgetown was shooting 61 percent from the field.

The Hoyas took a 51-30 lead into the break.

The second half was a scrappier affair.

Smith picked up his third foul early in the second half and sat.

With Georgetown leading 78-60, longtime walk-on John Caprio, recently elevated to scholarship status, entered the game to rousing applause. He was later joined by sophomores Bradley Hayes, Stephen Domingo and David Allen, who saw playing time in the waning minutes.

Note: Notably absent from Wednesday’s proceedings was William McFadden, the Georgetown theology professor who missed his first game as the team’s public address announcer since 1973 because of illness. Team officials said they are hopeful he’ll return this season.

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