WASHINGTON (AP)—Georgetown coach John Thompson III stood at the podium and spoke like a man who was relieved to have last week and, perhaps, the doubts of last season behind him.
His 23rd-ranked Hoyas had come up with the victory they needed to get back on track for a berth in the NCAA tournament by beating Rutgers 66-50 on Wednesday night.
In the span of seven days, the Hoyas (18-7, 9-5 Big East) dropped three straight to then-No. 9 West Virginia, Marquette and then-No. 4 Villanova.
“We needed that,” Thompson said. “Last week was a long week. We really needed that win. I’m very happy that we won.”
It was the type of win the Hoyas didn’t get at this point last season. After starting 15-7, Georgetown lost its last five games of the regular season to derail any chance of making the NCAA tournament.
The importance of Wednesday’s win for Georgetown wasn’t lost on Rutgers coach Gary Waters, who said he could sense the urgency in the Hoyas at both ends of the court.
“This was do or die for them,” he said. “They want to get somewhere and do some things so they came out with some fire, and when you come out with some fire things happen.”
The player that Rutgers (15-12, 5-9) couldn’t stop was 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert, who scored a career-high 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting.
“Roy played well, and as he continues to play well, it’s going to make life so much easier on everyone else,” Thompson said.
Hibbert’s play didn’t make life any better for Rutgers. He and Jeff Green helped Georgetown take a 34-20 halftime lead by combining for 20 points in the first half.
Hibbert asserted himself with a number of layups and short jump-hooks in the first half, and converted a three-point-play with 4:09 left that put the Hoyas ahead 56-42.
“A lot times Roy gets fouled, you hear the frustration out of their mouths, saying `Man this guy is big,”’ said Georgetown guard Darel Owens, who finished with 11 points. “As Roy’s teammate, it’s kind of funny to sit back and laugh because they get to see what we go through every day in practice.”
Jonathan Wallace added 10 points for the Hoyas and Green had nine.
Quincy Douby, the Big East’s leading scorer, had 29 points on 9-for-20 shooting to lead the Scarlet Knights, who were held to their second-lowest point total of the season and a season-worst 31 percent shooting.
Douby hit one of his three 3-pointers with 4:32 left to bring the Scarlet Knights within 53-42, but Hibbert responded with the three-point-play and Rutgers never got any closer.
Douby was the only Rutgers player to score during a stretch that covered the final 1:08 of the first half and the opening 7 minutes of the second.
The loss dropped Rutgers into a tie for 12th place in the Big East with St. John’s. The last four teams in the 16-school league don’t qualify for the conference tournament.