Hoyas Improve to 6-1 with Rout Over NJIT
Hoyas forward Hollis Thompson shoots an open three from the corner. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
WASHINGTON, DC – The Hoyas had plenty of built in excuses if they’d allowed visiting NJIT to linger around and stay in a game the Highlanders shouldn’t have been able to stay in.
 
There was Thursday’s emotionally and physically draining last-second victory over Alabama that opened eyes and probably changed opinions on the ceiling of this young Hoyas squad.  Then there was the long flight back and a late return Friday night.  And let’s not forget they are students as well, with a tough week ahead of last minute and makeup assignments waiting for them when they return to the classrooms on Monday.
 
“We were exhausted.”  
 
“Our legs weren’t with us early.”
 
Any of a number of excuses would have sufficed.  Only, the Hoyas didn’t need to make any.

The Hollis Thompson led Hoyas (6-1) opened on a run that never really closed and looked much more like the team with the rest of a short (comparatively at least) trip down I-95 rather than the one who’s been globetrotting at an NBA club’s pace over the last week.  The score was never really close, and neither was the game, as Georgetown dismantled the Highlanders (3-4) on both ends of the court en route to an 84-44 drubbing.
 
Hollis Thompson set a career high with six 3-pointers made, and the Hoyas followed his lead, burying 12 as a team to set a new season high team mark as well.  Thompson finished with a game-high 20 total points, and seemingly couldn’t miss from the floor where he went 7-for-10 overall.  
 
Georgetown took what they wanted offensively.  The Hoyas shot 50 percent from the field and three point line, and 90 percent from the charity stripe – all percentages that might have been inflated even higher had head coach John Thompson III not called off the dogs with just over 12 minutes remaining in the half.  Thompson sat his starters and emptied his bench, giving the talented but still learning freshman an opportunity to compete as well.  
 
The lineup of youngsters sputtered occasionally, but also had their moments, including a rundown block from behind by walk-on folk hero (aren’t all walk-ons fan favorites at Georgetown?) John Caprio, who matched his output from all of last season with six minutes and two points.  
 
Caprio wasn’t the only reserve player to give the Hoyas faithful a reason to cheer however.  Tyler Adams showed that he knows how to use his big body to his advantage on offense and on the glass, racking up eight points and six rebounds in 11 minutes.  He also added three blocks for good measure.  Mikeal Hopkins saw the most minutes of any bench player and contributed 12 points, three rebounds and two blocks in 22 minutes.  In all, the Hoyas reserves kicked in 35 of the Hoyas 84 points.  
 
Highlanders coach Jim Engles hadn’t deluded himself into thinking victory coming into this one, recognizing the disparity in athleticism and height between his Highlanders and the Hoyas.  Engles, in fact, wouldn’t have scheduled his team against the Hoyas at all if not for the urgings of his family, full of Hoya alum.
“I have the utmost respect for Georgetown,” Engles said to open his post game presser, “But right now I hate my family.”

“My wife her whole family, everybody went to Georgetown. That’s why I played this game.  From now on they have no say on any scheduling priorities.  If they bring up anything about basketball, they’re done.”
 
Engles remarks were, presumably, tongue-in-cheek, but he turned from light-hearted humor to utter respect when praising he Hoyas and John Thompson’s ability to play cohesively as a unit – even with a collection of freshman and little-used bench players on the floor.  It was that cohesiveness, and the Hoyas’ length, that gave the Highlanders problems.

Engles said he feels like the Hoyas are definitely coming into their own and will be a force to be reckoned with – regardless of the opponent – for the rest of the season.
 
“This is a tough team for anybody to play,” Engles said, “They’re long, they’re athletic, they defend, they don’t make mistakes, they run great offensive stuff, they play tremendous defense.”
 
For those keeping count, yes, that was two references to the Hoyas’ defensive prowess in the same quote.  The compliment was well deserved too.  While the Hoyas enjoyed the type of shooting efficiency normally experienced only in shootarounds, they were a wall on the defensive end too, limiting the Highlanders to just 27 percent shooting for the game and 21 percent from behind the three-point arc.   
 
The Hoyas are coming off a stretch that has seen them play four games in six days and while they are set for a week off before facing Howard University next Saturday, Coach Thompson says the week away from basketball won’t provide a break for the players because they have commitments as students as the semester is ending.  
 
The Hoyas, who prognosticators and odds-makers overlooked heading into the season are suddenly 6-1, including their win over a tough Alabama squad on Thursday, and are likely to find themselves on unfamiliar ground when the new polls come out this week – among the top 25 ranked teams in the nation.  The rankings don’t matter much to Thompson and his players though.
 
“Right now we’re just focusing on ‘can we get better,?’” the head coach said.
 
So far this season, the answer has been a resounding “Yes” as the Hoyas have seemingly grown and improved with every victory.  With just two games remaining before Big East play begins, they’ll be hoping for leaps-and-bounds improvement as they begin their bid for a League Championship no one thought they had a shot at heading into the season.
 
 Photo Gallery - Georgetown Hoyas vs. NJIT
 
Otto Portor of the Hoyas protects the ball from a NJIT defender. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
 
Hoyas Guard Jason Clark has a shot rejected in the lane. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
 
Georgetown guard jason Clark drives around a NJIT player. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
 
Mikael Hopkins and Greg Whittingham of the Hoyas look back at a loose ball. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
 
Hoyas point guard Markel Starks reads the defense. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
 
Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson of the Hoyas reach up to block a shot. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
 
Georgetown point guard Markel Starks protects the ball as he drives through the lane. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
 
Georgetown forward Mikael Hopkins slices through the defense. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
 
Georgetown forward Mikael Hopkins is fouled on his way up to the basket. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
 
 
Hoyas center Tyler Adams shoves his way past a defender. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
 
Georgetown guard Mikael Hopkins eys the basket as a defender reaches over him. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box
 
 
Hoyas guard John Caprio makes an easy lay up. The Hoyas defeated NJIT 84-44 at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. Eugene Huskey/DC Sports Box