Amid huge gusts of wind, a transformer blew near Verizon Center, causing the arena’s lights to dim and surge midway through Georgetown’s game against Seton Hall on Wednesday. But there was no shortage of energy from the Hoyas, who were determined to avenge their most lopsided defeat of last season.
The result was a feel-good, 74-52 victory for Georgetown fans — fast paced and physical, with rim-rattling put-backs, clever passes and tough-nosed defense that forced Seton Hall into 25 turnovers.
It was equally gratifying for Georgetown’s seldom-used reserves, all eight of whom had a role in the triumph. None had a bigger impact than walk-on John Caprio, who was tapped for duty with roughly four minutes remaining in the first half to help stem Seton Hall’s only credible rally of the night.
Caprio, who had played a total of three minutes in seven Big East games this season, immediately got a steal and quickly got to the free throw line, grabbed a pair of rebounds and hit a layup, triggering chants of “Cap-Ree-Oh!” “Cap-Ree-Oh!” from the 7,567 on hand.
“Coach is always telling me to be ready to go in and contribute,” said Caprio, a junior from Caldwell, N.J., who took special delight in defeating Seton Hall. In 12 minutes of work, he was credited with a team-high six rebounds, four points, two assists and a steal. “I hope I did pretty well.”
It was Georgetown’s third consecutive Big East victory and fifth in its last six games.
Georgetown (15-4, 5-3) never trailed. The Hoyas led by 10 at the half; 20 early in the second half; and 32 with 4 minutes 31 seconds remaining, which earned all of the starters a break for the night.
Even after building the 20-point lead, the Hoyas kept battling on defense and reduced the Big East’s most prolific three-point-shooting team to a misfiring mess (5 of 20 from beyond the arc).
“Early in the season we got some big leads that we blew because we stopped defending,” said junior forward Nate Lubick, who did a bit everything while helping muzzle Seton Hall’s massive 6-foot-9 center, Eugene Teague, among three Seton Hall players to foul out in a game that tallied 51 fouls. Teague managed just four points and four rebounds.
“As long as we remain consistent with our defense, we’ll be totally fine,” Lubick continued. “Our offense comes from our defense. That’s the way it has to be for 40 minutes.”
And Lubick scored eight points while dishing out five assists.
“He’s playing terrific right now — making reads on defenders, making great passes, also rebounding so we can start the break, taking charges,” Porter said of Lubick. “He’s doing everything right now.”
Georgetown started strong, while Seton Hall (13-8, 2-6) turned it over four times in the first four minutes without scoring a point.
The Hoyas aggravated Seton Hall with their press and moved the ball crisply and on offense until they got an open shot.
Off a Seton Hall miss, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera hit Lubick with an outlet pass for a layup in transition that capped an 11-0 run, bringing Georgetown’s lead to 20-4.
But the Pirates countered with nine consecutive points.
After Smith-Rivera rushed a second three-pointer that clanged off the rim with 4:38 remaining in the first half, Thompson swapped him for Caprio, who steadied matters.
Seton Hall scored the last four points of the half to pare Georgetown’s lead to 32-22 at the break.
Starks came out firing in the second half. Porter drilled a three-pointer that put the Hoyas up 44-24. And Georgetown kept its composure, working as hard on defense and offense, while the Pirates took on an air of desperation.