One of the first things a team has to do when taking on Notre Dame is defend the three-point line, because even though the Irish shoot just 32.8% from beyond the arc they rely on the shot a great deal. According to statsheet.com Notre Dame scores 29.4% of its points on three-point shots, a number that ranks third in the Big East behind Cincinnati and Seton Hall. Georgetown knew what they had to limit on Monday night and they did so, getting out to the Notre Dame shooters and limiting them to 3-for-17 in the 59-41 win.
The game played out even slower than either team would have preferred as there were just 53 possessions, and with that being combined with what the Hoyas were able to do defensively within those possessions it's no mystery as to why Mike Brey's team struggled. Seniors Jason Clark (13 points, six rebounds) and Henry Sims (ten points, six rebounds and five assists) both played well but it would be a freshman reserve who would lead the way in regards to scoring.
Greg Whittington scored 15 points in 24 minutes of action off the bench, making five of his six shots from the field. Whittington knocked down all three of his shots from beyond the arc while also taking advantage of open cutting lanes when available, one of which came courtesy of a Sims assist to make the score 24-16 with 3:38 remaining in the first half. Another Sims to Whittington connection with 6:03 remaining essentially put the game away, as the freshman's layup made the score 52-31 Georgetown.
"He's kind of getting his feet wet, getting adjusted and hasn't scored yet the way he can," said head coach John Thompson III. "That today, in spite of what the year has shown is what we see everyday. I don't think his performance today was a surprise to anyone in our locker room."
Georgetown had three players in double figures while the Irish failed to have one, which is a credit to the Hoyas' defensive effort both on the perimeter and inside. Jack Cooley scored just two points on 1-for-5 shooting (also finished without a rebound) in 25 foul-plagued minutes, and guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant combined to score 17 points on 6-for-22 shooting. The win pulls Georgetown into a tie with the Irish for third in the Big East with one league game remaining, and if the Hoyas can defend at this level in March they're more than capable of being successful.
"I'm very impressed with them defensively," said Brey. "Their length and their size and their quickness bothered us...I give a lot of credit to Georgetown and their defense. That may be the best defensive team we've played against this season."
Three Notable Performances
1. G Kevin Burwell (Mississippi Valley State)
30 points (11-16 FG), five rebounds and four assists in the Delta Devils' 78-69 win at Jackson State.
2. G Keiton Page (Oklahoma State) and G Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas)
In Kansas' 70-58 win at Oklahoma State, Taylor scored 27 points (10-15 FG) to lead the Jayhawks while Page led the Cowboys with 29 in his final regular season game at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
3. F Corey Law (High Point)
Nick Barbour scored 22 points in the Panthers' 68-58 win over Gardner-Webb in the first round of the Big South tournament but Law was also a factor, as he accounted for 16 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes off the bench.