Historic Hoya Shooting Night Buries Blue Devils in D.C.

Washington, D.C. -- The Washington Wizards weren’t playing until Saturday night, and with Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton already suspended by the NBA, there’s a good chance there weren’t any guns at the Verizon Center this weekend. But Saturday afternoon, Georgetown shot the lights out against No. 8 Duke.

In one of the best offensive performances in school history, the No. 11 Hoyas shot a cool 71.7 percent and led nearly the whole way as the Blue Devils (17-4) lost their fourth road contest of the season, this one with an 89-77 scoreline that flattered the visitors tremendously.

Duke led briefly, by a single point with 10 minutes to play in the first half, before a game-deciding 18-3 run by Georgetown gave the Hoyas control for good. During that pivotal three-minute stretch, four Blue Devil turnovers and a series of missed shots were converted into layup after layup by Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Greg Monroe, Georgetown’s three stars, who combined for 62 points on the day.

Duke’s top trio of senior Jon Scheyer and juniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler combined for a more than respectable 54 points, but they did so on 15-of-43 shooting. The Hoyas’ leaders, meanwhile, went 23-of-31, and Wright, who directed Georgetown’s offense almost flawlessly, missed just once from the field.

“The place was electric, their team was electric and they played that way for 40 minutes,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We haven't had a team shoot 72 percent against us since…I don't know when. The best thing we did was limit their offensive rebounds—they only had two because they only missed 13 shots.”

Despite Georgetown’s hot shooting and a 13-point halftime advantage, the Blue Devils nearly found their way back into the game, although the comeback was short-lived. Two quick 3-pointers to open the second half pulled Duke within seven, and after trading baskets for several minutes, freshman Andre Dawkins had a chance to cut an eight-point Hoya lead to five.

But his long-range shot clanged off the rim, and Freeman hit a three on the other end to stretch the lead to 11 to blow the lid off the Verizon Center. That advantage only grew the rest of the way, and Duke trailed by as many as  23 before garbage-time points made this game look closer than it was for most of the second period.

“That [stretch when the Blue Devils trailed by single digits] was our window of opportunity and we didn't take advantage of it,” Krzyzewski said. “And in a game like this…you look for small windows where you may be able to crack in there and do it, and we weren't able to do that.”

Primarily, the Hoyas managed to stay out in front by scoring off of Duke turnovers and by finding each other on backdoor cuts into the paint. Wright and Freeman slashed toward the basket repeatedly, and the Georgetown big men—especially Monroe—continually found them open under the basket defended by a porous, and foul-prone, Duke front line.

“With each game, [this group] is getting a heightened sense and understanding that we don't have to take a bad shot,” Georgetown head coach John Thompson III said. “With the offensive players we have, we know where our shots are coming from and they're doing an outstanding job night-in and night-out to help each other get shots.”

Early on, though, both sides looked sloppy and took plenty of bad shots, especially from 3-point range, and neither team was able to create much on the offensive end. Duke turned the ball over on its first possession and Georgetown kept the score tied at zero with two straight empty trips to start the contest, but found its rhythm close to the 10-minute mark. At that point, the unusually skittish Blue Devils fell apart for just a few possessions and could never recover.

After the game, Krzyzewski said several times that his team simply could not match the Hoyas’ emotion, inspired by the 20,000 gray-clad fans cheering it on and by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at courtside. No matter the reason, the Hoyas played their best—and gave downtrodden Washington basketball fans something to cheer about, and Duke fans something to worry about come March.


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