COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With Georgetown enjoying a comfortable lead late against Belmont, one Bruins fan still believed the Hoyas would stumble the way they had the last two years against lower seeds.
“You got a lot of choke in you, Georgetown,” he screamed toward the end of Georgetown’s 74-59 victory over Belmont in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Nationwide Arena.
In 2010 and 2011, the fan would have been right. But he was wrong Friday.
The Hoyas avoided a third consecutive postseason loss to a lower seed with an easy win over the Bruins.
The 3-14 matchup quickly became a trendy upset pick on Selection Sunday based on Belmont’s 3-point shooting (8.8 per game, 10th in the nation entering Friday’s game) and Georgetown’s premature dismissals the previous two seasons.
In the 2010, the Hoyas fell against Ohio. In 2011, they lost to VCU in the second round.
They were determined, however, to avoid another one in Columbus. And their fast start proved it. With 8:55 to play in the first half, they had an 11-point lead.
“I think it was definitely a sense of urgency, not just for me, but for the whole team,” said guard Jason Clark, who scored 10 of his team’s first 14 points. “We’ve known what we’ve done in the past. So it was a big thing for us to get this win today.”
That boisterous Belmont fan summed up the perception that made the Bruins a popular upset pick in office pools around the country.
Center Henry Sims said he couldn’t escape the “Belmont over Georgetown” chatter entering the matchup.
“I can’t even tell you how many times I looked on Twitter and saw ‘I’m calling this upset, this 3-14 upset.’ I just wanted to prove people wrong,” he said.
Now, the Hoyas can look forward to a Sunday matchup against NC State, which beat San Diego State in the first game of the afternoon. The Wolfpack possess athleticism and length that Belmont clearly lacked.
The Bruins were down 36-27 at halftime after shooting 6-for-15 from the 3-point-line. The Hoyas, the best 3-point defenders in the nation, made every shot a tough shot for the Bruins.
And on offense, they just pounded the ball inside and exploited Belmont’s limited size.
Sims scored 15 points. Otto Porter finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. The Hoyas had a 44-20 scoring advantage in the paint by the end of the game.
And the Atlantic Sun champs didn’t have a defender that could stick with Clark, who recorded a game-high 21 points (9-for-12 from the field). Georgetown shot 61.2 percent overall.
After the Hoyas led 40-27 early in the second half, Belmont used a 9-2 run to cut Georgetown’s lead to six with 14:52 to play. But a Belmont goaltending call and turnover on its next possession helped the Hoyas regain a double-digit lead.
The 3-ball that had been so crucial throughout the season for Belmont was not as effective against the lengthy Hoyas. The Bruins were 4-for-12 from beyond the arc in the second half. Georgetown’s zone was effective throughout the matchup.
“It’s hard to shoot a 3 when it’s contested,” Sims said.
And now, the Hoyas feel like they can finally move forward.
“There’s no doubt, and I will be misleading if I were to say it was not a relief,” said coach John Thompson III.