By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 19, 2010; 12:14 AM
The Georgetown Hoyas' lopsided victory over Loyola (Md.) on Saturday did not come as much of a surprise. What was somewhat shocking, however, was the efficiency with which they dismantled their overmatched opponent.
Led by Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Henry Sims, the 15th-ranked Hoyas made all but one of their two-point attempts in the first half, owned a double-digit lead before the contest was nine minutes old, then celebrated the end of first-semester exams with a 99-75 beatdown that marked the eighth time they've surpassed 90 points under Coach John Thompson III.
"I was extremely nervous coming into this game just because of exams, no practice, or sporadic practice, and not 100 percent attendance at practice," Thompson said. "I wasn't sure how sharp we were going to be."
Thompson's concern, as it turned out, was completely unwarranted. In the opening 20 minutes, the Hoyas (10-1) made 14 of their 15 two-point attempts and sank 4 of 8 from beyond the three-point arc as they pushed their lead to a 50-27 at the intermission. They entered the game tied for third in the nation in shooting percentage (51.3).
"Who missed it?" Thompson playfully inquired, referring to the first half's single wayward two-point shot.
The culprit was Jason Clark. But the junior guard more than made up for that miss by directing a defensive effort that was almost as impressive as Georgetown's offensive effectiveness.
The Hoyas harassed Loyola (4-6) into shooting only 29.2 percent in the opening 20 minutes and, during a span of 9 minutes 35 seconds, held the Greyhounds without a field goal. At the other end, Georgetown made eight consecutive field goals in that span, and 11 overall, to key the second-best shooting half of Thompson's seven-year tenure.
"I thought we did a very good job of making their shots tough - difficult, hard, contested shots," Thompson said.
Loyola Coach Jimmy Patsos said after the game that he had hoped for a closer result, particularly with Greg Monroe now in the NBA. The Greyhounds are 0-22 all-time against ranked teams, with all of the defeats coming by double digits.
"I thought we may catch them sleeping, but to be honest with you, I think they caught us a little on our heels," Patsos said before cracking, "I thought when Monroe left, I would catch them. They're probably better without him."
Patsos also praised the Hoyas' guards and singled out Sims for his continued development. Sims matched his career highs for points, with 12 on 5-of-5 shooting, and assists, with five.
"Sims is a Baltimore kid, and he's really" improved, Patsos said. "John gets guys better."
Thompson added: "It's been well documented, and said by me, [Sims] had an awful sophomore year. Now he's a junior who is playing well and is giving us good minutes, which might be an understatement. We're coming to expect this."
Three others also made their mark on the game: Hollis Thompson scored 14 points and was 3 for 4 from three-point range; Nate Lubick finished with eight points and a career-high five assists; and Moses Ayegba notched a career-best six points and showed his shot-blocking prowess by swatting a pair of attempts - on the same possession.
The only areas where the Hoyas had any difficulty was at the free throw line, where they went 21 for 31, and on the boards, where they were out-rebounded for only the second time this season. The Greyhounds finished with a 33-29 edge in rebounds, and a 16-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
"That point was noted in the locker room, wasn't it fellas?" Thompson said, looking around at Wright and Clark.
With a lead that swelled to 30 in the second half, Thompson pulled his stars early. Wright left the game with almost 16 minutes remaining, while Freeman and Clark departed with about 14 minutes left to play. Sitting at the end of the bench in warmups, the trio finally could relax after a hectic week filled with exams, term papers and practice.
"School is tough," Wright said. "As you can see I don't have my hair cut; I've been in the books."
Although the game proved to be a one-sided affair from the opening tip, Clark said it provided a needed boost for a team scheduled to play only twice in the span of 11 days. The Hoyas' next game is Thursday at No. 18 Memphis.
"It was a good confidence builder after being off for a while," he said, "and everybody played well."