Freshman forward Isaac CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA Copeland started the game for the Hoyas and finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Freshman forward Isaac Copeland started the game for the Hoyas and finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.

Classes were cancelled Tuesday on the Hilltop as an overnight snowstorm brought traffic in Washington D.C. to a halt. But there was plenty of action Tuesday night inside Verizon Center, where Georgetown (17-8, 9-5 Big East) rode an impressive team performance to take down St. John’s (16-9, 6-7 Big East) by a final of 79-57.

Georgetown, which was playing for the first time in a week, showed some rust in the opening minutes of the contest, making only two of its first 13 shots from the floor.

“The first half we were getting shots, they just weren’t going in,” Head Coach John Thompson III said.

St. John’s, in its usual up-tempo style, took shots early and often in the shot clock, grabbing a 19-15 lead with a little under nine minutes to play in the first half.

From there, the Georgetown defense intensified. Thompson said earlier in the week that most of the work the Hoyas had done during their off-week focused on the defensive end of the floor — and their preparation showed. The Hoyas forced 12 turnovers in the first half and fouled at a much lower rate than they usually do, sending the Red Storm to the free throw line only seven times.

St. John’s did not score a field goal in the final 8:49 of the half and Georgetown entered the locker room with a 33-23 lead.

Senior forward Mikael Hopkins led Georgetown in the first half with eight points, five rebounds and three steals. The Maryland native has adjusted well to his new role in the past two games, coming off the bench for freshman forward Isaac Copeland, who has started in his place.

“[Hopkins’ energy off the bench] isn’t a surprise,” Thompson said. “Hop’s a senior. Hop wants to win. Hop might understand what his coach wants more than anyone in that locker room.”

In the second half, Georgetown’s offense began to find its rhythm. After the Hoyas failed to make a three-pointer in the first half, senior guard Jabril Trawick hit one on the first possession of the second period and Georgetown would go on to make its next seven shots from behind the arc.

Senior center Joshua Smith then got involved, taking advantage of a banged-up St. John’s junior center Chris Obekpa to score five consecutive points. It was somewhat of a bounce back game for Smith, who failed to reach double digits or play more than 15 minutes in three of his previous four contests.

“Josh tonight had energy, yes,” Thompson said.

The undisputed highlight of the game, however, came when Copeland used a slight hesitation to blow by St. John’s senior guard D’Angelo Harrison before elevating in the lane for a thunderous dunk with 16:21 remaining to give Georgetown a 46-28 lead.

“I know now that I’m starting to hit a lot more three-pointers that people are going to start running out on me a lot faster,” Copeland said. “Coach and [senior Tyler Adams] told me next time to go all the way to the rim and finish on them.”

From there, the Hoyas put the game on cruise control. The Red Storm would not come within 13 points of the lead for the rest of the night and Thompson was able to pull his starters with a little over a minute remaining, giving the crowd at Verizon Center a chance to show its appreciation.

The win guaranteed Georgetown at least a .500 record in conference and was the first victory in the Hoyas’ last three home games, allowing the team to lift a weight off of its shoulders.

“It’s very refreshing after a couple of losses to come in here and win,” Thompson said.

For St. John’s Head Coach Steve Lavin, who has never lost at Verizon Center by less than 10 points, the feeling was a little different.

“It’s been a house of horrors during my five years here,” Lavin said with a hint of resignation in his voice.

All five Georgetown starters finished the game in double digits. Freshman forward L.J. Peak, junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Copeland, Hopkins and Smith all scored 12 points while Trawick pitched in 11.

On the defensive end, the Hoyas held Harrison, the second leading scorer in the Big East, and sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan, the Red Storm’s second leading scorer, to a combined eight points on 1-of-17 shooting. Neither player scored during the first 25 minutes of the game.

“You get lucky some nights,” Thompson said of his team’s defense on the pair. “Our guys worked very hard; our guys did a good job of helping each other for the most part, but [Harrison] was a little off today.”

Georgetown now has a few days off before welcoming DePaul (12-14, 6-7 Big East) to Verizon Center. The Blue Demons have lost five of their last six and will host Providence on Wednesday night before travelling to D.C. on Saturday to face the Hoyas.

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  1. Men’s Basketball | Five Players Score 12 Points in 79-57 Victory porfeck

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