After consecutive games in which he seemingly went missing for long stretches, Georgetown junior Hollis Thompson reemerged Wednesday at Verizon Center — and it wasn’t a moment too soon for the 14th-ranked Hoyas.
Thompson scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and Georgetown recommitted itself on defense. The result was a thorough 58-44 victory over defending national champion Connecticut, which the Hoyas limited to its lowest point total of the season.
“It was good to have this type of performance because we played well,” Coach John Thompson III said. “We played well at both ends of the floor. [But] they were off.”
They relentlessly pursued rebounds. They used an intense matchup zone defense to produce stops at critical moments. And upperclassmen Thompson, Henry Sims and Jason Clark sank clutch shots each time the Huskies threatened in the second half.
With 7 minutes 45 seconds remaining, DeAndre Daniels scored to pull the Huskies within six points. It was as close as Connecticut would get.
Clark (11 points) responded to Daniels’s layup with a drive and a jumper to increase the Hoyas’ lead to 49-39. Then Sims put the exclamation point on the game-breaking run with a thunderous dunk over Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut’s best player, igniting the crowd of 15,174.
“I though it came down to a test of [Georgetown’s] will to run with the two seniors,” Huskies Coach Jim Calhoun said of Sims and Clark.
Lamb (14 points on 4-for-18 shooting) and the Huskies did not recover from Sims's dunk. They’ve now lost four straight games.
“It was definitely a momentum-shifter,” said Sims, who had 13 points and seven turnovers in an uneven outing. “It made the crowd come alive.”
Hollis Thompson cracked a big grin when asked about the dunk.
“Everybody was like, ‘Whoa, on his head,’ ” he said of his teammates’ reaction to highlight slam. “It was a great dunk.”
Hollis Thompson’s effort was equally worthy of praise, for the points he produced and the stops the swingman helped the Hoyas get. Against Pittsburgh and Rutgers, he totaled 15 points.
“He was key in that zone defense, being there so they didn’t get the shots,” said John Thompson. “This was exact opposite of the Pittsburgh game, where he was just floating. Tonight, he wasn’t floating, he was an active part in every aspect of the game.”
The Huskies’ point total was the lowest they had accumulated against the Hoyas since the 1981-82 season. Some of it was because Lamb simply couldn’t make a shot.
But most of it was due to the Hoyas’ effort and execution at the defensive end of the floor, where they grabbed 30 of their 37 rebounds.
The Huskies were also limited to 30 percent shooting from the floor, which marked the second-lowest percentage Georgetown has yielded in Big East play.
“Very,” John Thompson said, when asked how pleased he was with the Hoyas’ defense. “Our communication and our effort and our attentiveness was good.”
Asked about his team’s rebounding effort, Thompson added: “Obviously we were bad at that the other day. And that was something we talked about. You’re not going to beat them unless you compete on the boards.”
Although Georgetown finished with a flourish, the game got off to a rocky start for the hosts. The Hoyas trailed at the second television timeout for the fifth time in the past seven games, 13-9. Thompson called a timeout and lambasted his players.
Thompson said he could not recall what exactly he said. Clark had no trouble remembering, though.
“Play harder,” the senior captain said jokingly.