PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Saddled with foul trouble and surrendering far too many long-range baskets, the Georgetown men’s basketball team simply couldn’t seize control of its shootout with Rutgers as the clock wound down Saturday afternoon. And the Hoyas’ tenuous prospects took an ominous turn when forward Nate Lubick, who has been a stalwart defender and steady offensive contributor all season, fouled out with just more than six minutes remaining.
Porter scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half, including five of the game’s last seven in the final 75 seconds. Along the way he grabbed 14 of Georgetown’s 29 total rebounds and dished out a team-high four assists when tight defensive coverage made it tricky to get off his own shot.
“That’s what we’ve come to expect,” Coach John Thompson III said of Porter. “He’s one of the best players in the country, and the best players in the country come through.”
Georgetown’s final margin was supplied by sophomore center Mikael Hopkins, who grabbed a key defensive rebound, sank a pair of free throws and blocked a shot in a 16-second burst just before the buzzer sounded. The 6-foot-9 Hopkins, who has struggled with his confidence and form since filling the big-man’s role this season, finished with a career-high 14 points.
There were other contributors. Junior Markel Starks scored a team-high 20 points, coming through with three three-pointers at pivotal junctures. Freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera added 13, while Aaron Bowen and Moses Ayegba supplied valuable minutes to compensate for Lubick’s loss and prevent Hopkins from fouling out, as well.
“With Nate going into foul trouble and Coach allowing me to play a little bit longer, I was able to get in my groove,” Hopkins said. “When I made a mistake, he let me play through it.”
Georgetown has won 11 of its last 12 games against Rutgers. But the Scarlet Knights gave the Hoyas a serious scare, romping in the face of Georgetown’s vaunted defense in the first half.
Paced by sophomore guard Eli Carter, who scored a game-high 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting, Rutgers hit 52 percent of its attempts in the first half.
Lubick picked up a second foul less than six minutes into the game and spent much of the period on the bench. While the Hoyas piled up fouls at an alarming clip, with Starks and Jabril Trawick joining Lubick with two each, Carter kept raining three-pointers, and the score was knotted at 33 at halftime.
Lubick returned to the lineup for the start of the second half, and Hopkins scored the first four points of the period.
Lubick picked up this third and fourth fouls in a two-minute span and sat again with 13 minutes 23 seconds remaining,
Trawick immediately followed with his fourth.
And the Rutgers Athletic Center came to life when Carter drilled a fourth three-pointer to pull Rutgers even at 44.
Georgetown trailed 56-55 with 8:04 remaining when Thompson sent Lubick back out with four fouls. The junior feasted on a Rutgers turnover, firing a full-court pass to Starks, who converted yet another timely basket. But Lubick was gone for good soon after, picking up his fifth foul with 6:11 to play.
Porter filled the breach, drilling a three-pointer to put Georgetown ahead, 60-58. And he kept scoring, from the free throw line and in the paint, and got a steal and wrestled over a loose ball for good measure.