There was no end to Marquette Coach Buzz Williams’s frustration Monday at Verizon Center, where a young Georgetown team was determined to prove it had grown into a Big East contender in the six weeks since all but giving away its conference opener on the Golden Eagles’ home court.
With his team coughing up the ball on roughly every third possession — committing turnovers at a faster clip than it made field goals — an agitated Williams stomped his feet, made multiple forays onto the court and finally protested one call too many.
The technical foul that resulted, after Marquette had pared a 10-point halftime deficit to three, didn’t decide the outcome. But there was no mistaking that it roused Georgetown fans and re-energized the Hoyas, who rolled on for a 63-55 victory.
Monday’s convincing victory served as a measuring stick on how far Georgetown has come.
As in the teams’ first meeting, Coach John Thompson III relied on only seven players, while Williams substituted frequently to keep his players’ legs fresh and his press intense.
But this time, the Hoyas defended until the final play after getting off to a suspect start, allowing No. 18 Marquette’s 6-foot-11 center, Chris Otule, to hit four baskets in the first four minutes.
They also won the rebounding battle, 32-28, getting a significant contribution to that end from sophomore center Mikael Hopkins, who grabbed a career-high nine rebounds and added six points and three blocks.
Yet again, Otto Porter Jr. staked a claim as the league’s most versatile, impactful player, scoring a game-high 21 points while adding seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Junior guard Markel Starks scored 16 points, commanded the offense with authority and added a spark to the defense.
It was a physical, fast-paced game in which Georgetown forced 19 turnovers and feasted on them, scoring 24 of its 63 points as a direct result.
But the start didn’t bode well for the Hoyas, with Marquette’s Otule scoring over Hopkins with ease to pace his team to an 11-6 lead.
The Hoyas hit just two of their first 11 attempts and turned it over four times in the first seven minutes.
But in a flash Starks hit consecutive three-pointers to put Georgetown ahead and rouse the late-arriving crowd, while Marquette’s fast start fizzled on a flurry of turnovers.
Hopkins settled in. And aided by 6-8 Nate Lubick, he silenced Otule until the game’s waning minutes and stood tall against Marquette’s other front-court handful, 6-8, 290-pound Davante Gardner.
On a crafty pass from Porter, Hopkins hit a reverse to cap a 7-0 Georgetown run that made it 33-23 at the break.
Marquette (17-6, 8-3) came out with a fury in the second half but ended up sending the Hoyas to the free throw line in an effort to close the game.
Neither team scored easily. But after Marquette pulled to 37-34, Williams drew the technical with 12 minutes 13 seconds remaining.
“Anytime you get a technical, it’s a bad time,” Williams said afterward. “We had 12 turnovers in the first half and zero offensive rebounds. I’m not sure you can win in Division I, on the road, unless those are better.”
Porter hit the subsequent free throws, then followed with a jumper that extended Georgetown’s lead to 41-34.
Lubick restored the 10-point margin with just more than 10 minutes to play. Porter flapped his arms to rally the crowd of 11,821, though it was hardly necessary.
With a dunk by Hopkins, the feel-good rout was on.
Marquette kept battling but never seriously threatened from there.
“We’ve evolved a lot from that first Big East game to now,” Porter said. “We’re learning from our mistakes.”
Georgetown and Marquette are now tied for second in the Big East standings, with Syracuse alone in first.