Smith-Rivera drops 32 points, Hoyas drop WVU in NIT opener

Smith-Rivera drops 32 points, Hoyas drop WVU in NIT opener
March 18, 2014, 9:30 pm
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Recap: Everything old was new again for Georgetown's NIT opener. For a squad that struggled late in the season and missed out on the NCAA Tournament for first time since 2009, that included the result. 

D'Vauntes Smith scored 23 of his season-high 32 points in the second half and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Hoyas (18-14) advanced to the second round with a 77-65 victory.  Markel Starks had 14 points and seven assists, and Jabril Trawick added 12.

They did so playing inside raucous McDonough Arena, the cozy on-campus gym not used for a men's game since December 2009. They did so by defeating their former Big East rivals and snapping a five-game losing streak to the Big 12 representing Mountaineers. WVU (17-16) point guard Juwan Staten scored 15 of his 23 points in the first half, but Georgetown's defenders quieted him over the final 20 minutes. 

The other rarity involved Georgetown playing in the NIT. The Hoyas had lost five of their last seven games, including a stunning setback to last place DePaul in last week's Big East Tournament. Those outcomes help end the program's streak of four straight NCAA Tournament appearances.  

As with many of the Hoyas shining moments this season, success came from scoring and spunk from their three guards. After trailing most of the first half and 36-34 early in the second half, Georgetown scored seven straight points, five by Smith-Rivera, forcing a WVU timeout. 

One of its patented scoring droughts soon followed, but the lead remained with the home team. The vocal, gray t-shirt wearing students, who comprised most of the fan base, wouldn't have it any other way. 

Neither would the backcourt trio. Feeding off the strident energy, Smith-Rivera, Starks and Trawick scored 38 of Georgetown's 47 points in the second half. They also keyed a subsequent 9-0 run for a 66-51 lead. The Hoyas shot 52 percent from the field in the second half. 

The Hoyas will next face Florida State, the top seed in the region. The Seminoles defeated Georgetown nemesis Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday night. 

Defense: West Virginia's field goal with 9:05 remaining in the second half cut Georgetown's lead to 55-51. The Mountaineers would not score again for nearly six minutes and the Hoyas took a 15-point lead in that span. 

Named to the Big 12 All-first team and a finalist for the Cousy award, Staten led the Big 12 with 18.0 points. The junior carved up the Hoyas in the first half, sinking 6 of 7 field goal attempts. Georgetown held Staten to eight points on 2 of 6 shooting after halftime. 

Key stat: Georgetown went 17 of 21 from the free throw line in the second half and finished 24 of 30. Smith-Rivera made all 10 of his attempts in his second 30-point performance of the season. 

1st half:  The opening 13 minutes included bit of the black-and-blue style one would expect in a matchup between the former Big East rivals. Offense was at a premium for both teams, though the Mountaineers shot 54 percent from the field. The Hoyas needed a late flurry just to finish the half at 37 percent from the field. WVU led by as many as five and Bowen's putback at the buzzer sent Georgetown into halftime trailing 33-30. 

Odds and ends: 2014 recruits Tre Campbell and Isaac Copeland were among onlookers inside McDonough. ...Georgetown coach John Thompson said on Monday that he intended to stick with his usual rotation pattern rather than attempt to give some of the team's younger players a jump-start on next season. He did not lie. Only seven Hoyas played.

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