Georgetown Stays Ahead of the Game
Thursday, February 28, 2008
DaJuan Summers is known as one of Georgetown's best finishers. According to teammate Roy Hibbert, not only does Summers make every dunk he attempts in practice, but players often get out of the way of the 6-foot-8 sophomore as he rises to the basket.
In the first half of the 11th-ranked Hoyas' 64-52 victory over St. John's last night, however, Summers missed two dunks: a one-handed attempt that would have punctuated a fast break that he started with a steal, and a two-handed effort that came off of a baseline drive.
"It just happens sometimes," said Summers, who also missed a dunk in Georgetown's win over Cincinnati on Saturday. "I guess that's all you can say, you just can't dwell on it. Next play, that's what coach was telling me, just think about the next play. If I would've worried about the dunks, I would've taken myself out of the game completely."
Summers, indeed, shook off the misses and scored a game-high 21 points, which included a career-high five three-pointers, in front of 9,018 at Verizon Center. He helped Georgetown, which humiliated St. John's last month, avoid a costly stumble heading into the final stretch of the regular season, which includes games at No. 21 Marquette (Saturday) and against No. 13 Louisville (March 8).
Georgetown is 23-4, 13-3 in the Big East, and maintained its position in the crowded race for the league's regular season title. Georgetown, Louisville (12-3) and No. 17 Notre Dame (11-3) all have three losses, but the Cardinals host the Fighting Irish tonight in a pivotal match.
The Hoyas led by only four points, 27-23, at halftime, a stark contrast to what happened in the first meeting between these teams. In late January, Georgetown held the Red Storm (10-17, 4-11) without a field goal for the first 15 minutes, built a 27-point halftime advantage, and handed St. John's its most lopsided loss ever in Big East play, 74-42.
But last night, the Hoyas were sloppy at first -- they missed several short shots in the opening half and were just 37.5 percent from the field -- and struggled to pull away from a team that was coming off of a 30-point loss at No. 7 Duke. The Red Storm needed only 50 seconds to get their first field goal this time, and they made 22 of 48 shots -- becoming only the fourth team this season to shoot better than 45 percent against Georgetown -- in part because they were able to get good shots against the Hoyas' defense, which was so airtight against Cincinnati.
Four of St. John's first five baskets of the second half were dunks, with the first coming right after the break: Eugene Lawrence tossing an alley-oop to Anthony Mason Jr. (12 points). After Mason stole a pass and threw down another dunk, Georgetown clung to a one-point lead, 34-33, with 14 minutes 30 seconds remaining.
The Hoyas then turned to Hibbert, who had a quiet first half (2 for 4). He scored 11 of his 17 points in the final 15 minutes of the game, and was much more aggressive, even earning an offensive foul as he fought for position inside.
"We told Roy at halftime, let's be more aggressive. Get open," Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said. "We were able to throw it in a lot more, and not just for his points, but it opened up everything else. The first half, they were being extremely physical with him, and he just needed to be a little more assertive in terms of getting the ball. We had to get it into him more and then play off of that as we always do."
Georgetown's defense also clamped down, and held St. John's scoreless for a five-minute stretch. In that span, Summers and Hibbert combined to score nine straight points to put the Hoyas up, 52-41, with Summers hitting a three-pointer and also flashing open under the basket, a few steps behind Hibbert. Summers made another three with less than two minutes to go, shortly after St. John's scored on back-to-back possessions.
"I think he did a better job in the second half of not letting makes or misses affect other parts of his game," Thompson said of Summers, who missed the first meeting between the teams because of a sprained ankle. "You can't let one poor play affect the next five minutes."