With roughly six minutes to play in the first half Saturday afternoon and the shot clock about to expire, Georgetown’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera gathered a stinging pass from teammate Nate Lubick, squared his shoulders and released a three-point attempt from the top of the key.
As the ball swished through, the appreciative crowd at Verizon Center showered the sophomore with applause during a game in which the guard outscored St. John’s by himself in the first half of a 77-60 dismantling that was the 100th meeting between the Big East flagship programs.
Smith-Rivera finished with a season-high 31 points, making 6 of 7 from three-point range, and added six rebounds, three assists and one block in front of 10,164. Senior point guard Markel Starks (12 points) was the only other Hoyas player to reach double figures, but it hardly mattered given how frequently the Red Storm was misfiring from the field and foul line in the first half.
“In the first half, D’Vauntes got going as he can get going, and I thought his teammates did a good job of getting him the ball,” Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said. “I thought our back court, D’Vauntes and Markel, were very good. Markel was spreading the ball around.”
In winning for the ninth time in 10 games and leading wire-to-wire, the Hoyas (10-3, 2-0 Big East) commenced the new year by shooting 56.1 percent, making 9 of 13 three-pointers (season-high 69 percent) and owning a 37-30 margin in rebounding. They also beat their longtime rivals for a sixth time in a row despite committing 18 turnovers and won for the ninth consecutive time at home in the series that has been contentious over the decades.
This installment included moments of extracurricular rough-housing after Starks was fouled driving to the basket in the second half and the Hoyas firmly in control, 71-50. St. John’s Rysheed Jordan was the guilty party, and Starks confronted the guard.
The players had to be separated paces from the Georgetown bench, and after officials restored order, Starks, who was assessed a technical, made two foul shots. Jordan, meantime, spent the rest of the game on the bench.
Less than a minute later, Hoyas center Joshua Smith and St. John’s counterpart Chris Obekpa shoved each other following a whistle. Obekpa was called for the personal foul with 2 minutes 31 seconds left in regulation, and officials charged Georgetown’s Jabril Trawick with a technical.
The Hoyas opened the game by scoring 26 of the first 34 points and never looked back. Smith-Rivera’s first three field goals all came from three-point range, and by the time he made his fourth three of the first half off Lubick’s assist, the lead had swelled to 29-10.
“I think it was more my teammates just finding me in areas where I was open for the most part,” Smith-Rivera said. “I wasn’t expecting to be open, but Markel did a good job today of finding open guys, and I was one of them.”
Georgetown’s largest lead was 33 points with 13:55 left, and when St. John’s got within 65-46 on Phil Greene IV’s jumper, Starks countered with a fadeaway three-pointer from the left corner to beat the shot clock. Starks was 2 of 3 from three-point range and chipped in five rebounds and four assists but also committed four turnovers.
Reserve guard-forward Max Hooper led St. John’s with 13 points, all in 10 second-half minutes. The sophomore made 4 of 5 from three-point range, and junior guard Sir’Dominic Pointer had 11 points for the Red Storm (9-5, 0-2), which lost its second game in a row.
“Georgetown sustained a high level of execution, of effort,” St. John’s Coach Steve Lavin said. “They obviously bring great physicality to the floor, in particular at the defensive end of the court. They in the first half had their way. They controlled the paint and were able to get high percentage looks. They shut us down.”