Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Hoyas Shut Down Notre Dame

Not all blowouts are created equal. In some, the winning team pulls away late and piles up garbage-time points to pad the margin of victory; in others, the winning team is so thoroughly dominant that it becomes obvious five minutes into the second half that the other team has no chance.

Monday night fell decidedly in the latter category, as No. 11 Georgetown (22-6, 12-5 Big East) throttled No. 20 Notre Dame (20-10, 12-5 Big East), 59-41, on Senior Night at Verizon Center.

Although freshman forward Greg Whittington set a new career high with an efficient 15 points on six shots to lead all scorers, it was the seniors who shone brightest in the last home game of their Georgetown careers. Guard Jason Clark and center Henry Sims scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, while grabbing six rebounds apiece. Sims, who leads Georgetown in assists, had five dimes on the game after recording zero against Villanova Saturday.

“Sims is so good with the ball,” Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey said. “It’s a unique team that he is the leading assist guy. I’ve really never seen anything like that. They really play well off him.”

The Hoyas were buoyed by the return of starting sophomore point guard Markel Starks, who was benched for Saturday’s win and sat out for the first 5:35 of this game before checking in.

“I decided to play him, and I thought he was fine,” Thompson III said.

Starks’ first bucket, a tiebreaking layup in transition with 8:51 left in the first half, sparked a 7-0 Georgetown run that helped the hosts go into halftime up 10. Sims played a starring role in the Hoyas’half-ending outburst, scoring or assisting on 10 consecutive points before an unassisted spinning Clark jumper accounted for the last points of the frame.

“The karma wasn’t good tonight, [and] a lot of that was Georgetown’s doing,” Brey said. “Even though we were down 10 at halftime, we were hanging on for dear life.”

The Fighting Irish started with the ball in the second half, looking to cure its first-half offensive struggles that resulted in 35 percent shooting and five turnovers. After the teams traded turnovers on their first few possessions, senior guard Scott Martin hit a three to pull the visitors within seven. They wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the game, though, as the Georgetown defense held them to 7-of-24 shooting the rest of the way. Junior forward Jack Cooley, who entered the game averaging more than 12 points and nine boards per contest, was particularly ineffective. Matched up against Sims for much of the game, he struggled with two points on 1-of-5 shooting, committed four fouls, turned the ball over once and failed to grab a single rebound.

“I thought Henry did a good job defending Cooley,” Thompson III said. “He makes you work. … Henry’s [going to] sleep well tonight. If you guard him, you’re tired.”

“This is by far his worst effort,” Brey said. “For him to play 25 minutes and not get a rebound is staggering.”

By the midpoint of the second half, the hosts’ lead had expanded to 16, and it was obvious that the Fighting Irish had no solution for Georgetown’s defensive intensity. Coming off an abysmally poor 4-of-31 performance from behind the arc in a surprising loss to St. John’s on Saturday, Notre Dame wasn’t much better from long range Monday night. No single player made more than one trey, and the team shot just 3-of-17 from behind the arc.

“To go through a game and only allow them to take 17 threes is a big deal,” Thompson III said. “Our closeouts were good [and] we did a good job of protecting the three-point line.”

When all was said and done, Notre Dame’s 41-point output was the team’s worst regular-season total since 1983.

“I’m very impressed with them defensively,” Brey said. “That may be the best defensive team we’ve played against this season.”

Although both Sims and Clark were emphatic that they tried to approach Monday night’s contest like any other game, they did pause for a few brief moments of reflection in the press room.

“It was very big for us,” Clark said. “We talked about it before. We wanted to leave with a bang. We didn’t want to go out with a loss [and] we wanted to do the best we could on the court to get a win.”

“We won,” Sims said simply when asked to describe his biggest takeaway from the game. “It was good to see a lot of the family members who I haven’t seen in a long time, [but] it was just good to leave here with a win.”

The Blue and Gray travel to Milwaukee on Saturday for their final game of the regular season. Awaiting them will be the No. 8 Marquette Golden Eagles, who blew a 17-point lead with 13 minutes left in a loss at Verizon Center in January. A win would secure the Hoyas a double-bye in the Big East Tournament.

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