PISCATAWAY — The difference between Georgetown’s five-game winning streak and Rutgers’ six-game losing streak was on display in the form of Otto Porter on Saturday.
In leading the 20th-rannked Hoyas to a 69-63 victory, Porter made all the plays down the stretch and Rutgers did not.
Porter had 19 points, including 10 straight over the final 5:42, and 14 rebounds for the Hoyas.
“We don’t have that guy,” Rutgers coach Mike Rice said. “I think we have a pretty good team with some options. We shared the game and had the passion to play with one another, but in the Big East, you’re going to face lottery picks and first-round draft choices. You have to defend as a team and we didn’t do that.”
Forward Wally Judge said the Knights knew Porter was the go-to man
“He’s a beast,” said Judge, who led Rutgers with seven rebounds. “He’s a great player. You have to be aware of wherever he is on the court because he’s their facilitative player to make a basket.
“He doesn’t waste any opportunities. Every time he gets the ball it seems like it’s going to go in.”
Conversely, the Knights continued to miss easy putback attempts, which has plagued them in their losing streak.
“In this league you have to make or create your opportunities,” Rice said. “When you get those opportunities you have to finish them.
“There were too many missed opportunities. Whether it be offensive rebounds, finishing, a drive, a great possession.”
Georgetown (17-4, 7-3 Big East), which has won seven of eight, took advantage of its opportunities as Markel Starks had 20 points, Mikael Hopkins 14 and D’Vaun Smith-Rivera 13. The Hoyas shot 57.4 percent (27 for 47) including 60.9 (14 for 23) in the second half.
Eli Carter had 23 points for the Scarlet Knights (12-10, 3-8), who shot 52.4 percent (11 for 21) in the first half but just 30.3 percent (10 for 33) in the second.
“They are a good offensive team,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “We could sit here and talk about what we attacked and how we adjusted to change but I can’t remember a team shooting 50 percent against us in a long time.
“There were too many good offensive players that made open looks that they were getting. I think in the second half we were doing a slightly better job of not giving them the open looks that they were getting in the first half.”
The Knights’ problems came inside, as Rice counted 21 misses in the paint that came back to haunt his team.
“We have to find a way to end these games off the right way,” Carter said. “I don’t think they wore us down. They just stay so consistent within the offense and then they kind of change it up within the last 4 minutes. You don’t know whether they’re back-dooring you, running the flash screen. It’s just a tough call.”
With just under 6 minutes remaining Rutgers led 58-57 before Porter hit a 3-pointer to start his personal 10-point run. The Knights tied it on two free throws by Mike Poole, which completed a string of nine straight scoring sequences that produced either a lead change or a tie.
Porter then scored on a fast-break layup to make it 62-60 with 4:44 left and give the Hoyas the lead for good. Leading 62-61, the Hoyas came out of a timeout and got a three-point play from Porter off an entry pass from Starks to lead by four with 1:15 remaining.
“On that last cut-and-post, (associate head coach David Cox) called it right in the huddle,” Rice said. “They out-executed and out-toughed us there.
Carter scored a quick basket to bring Rutgers within 65-63 with 55 seconds left, but Porter responded again by hitting both ends of a 1-and-1. The Knights missed two straight shots and Hopkins made two foul shots with 14 seconds left to clinch a game that had 14 lead changes and 11 ties.
“I like the (way we competed) out there today,” Rice said. “But it doesn’t matter — you have to win.”