WASHINGTON, D.C. — Confidence exuded from Rodney Pryor’s every move. When Georgetown clung to a one-point lead with under seven minutes left in the first half, Pryor steamrolled into the lane and flipped a left-handed contact layup over Creighton guard Marcus Foster to trigger a barrage that sent the No. 16 Bluejays packing.
Pryor scored 12 of the next 16 Georgetown points, highlighted by two 3’s and a thunderous tomahawk slam, to mount a nine-point lead. The Hoyas led by 12 at halftime and never looked back in quest to an upset win over Creighton at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night, 71-51.
“We knew we needed to be aggressive,” Pryor said, who finished with 18 points, six assists and five rebounds. “I got some good looks early, and just knocked them down.”
Even though nationally ranked Creighton is a week removed from having its point guard Maurice Watson — the nation’s leader in assists (8.5 per game) — ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL, it’s a staple win for coach John Thompson III and the Hoya (11-10, 2-6) program that was in danger of falling under .500 overall and slipping to 1-7 in the Big East with a loss.
Creighton does pose a frontcourt load in projected first round pick in this year’s NBA Draft, 7-foot center Justin Patton. But outside of Patton (20 points on 9 of 13 shooting), the Bluejays trudged, shooting 24.4 percent (11-for-45) and 5.6 percent (1-for-18) from behind the arc.
“(Maurice Watson) made the game easier, not just for me, but for all of us,” Patton said. “It’s been hard because we need to find a different way.”
In the game’s first 40 seconds, Patton dropped in a pair of hard finger-roll lay-ins on the low block to give Creighton an early 4-0 lead.
Georgetown countered with a 10-2 run to take a 13-8 lead midway through the first half. Jessie Govan scored six of his 15 points (7 of 10 shooting) during the stretch, a time when both teams were shooting well under 30 percent.
Creighton held the lead for one final time, 15-13, before L.J. Peak (20 points and five assists) drilled a 3 on the left wing to give Georgetown a lead it wouldn’t lose.
Pryor then hit the acrobatic layup over Foster to push the lead to 18-15. Peak converted a three-point play that stretched the Hoya lead to 32-23 and Akoy Agau finished a layup to beat the first half buzzer that gave Georgetown a commanding 39-27 halftime lead.
“We didn’t have answer for Pryor or Peak,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “Obviously, we’ve been fighting. We’ve been through a lot of adversity. We’ll find a lot about ourselves in the upcoming week or so.”
The closest Creighton got in the second half was 41-30, when Cole Huff knocked down all three free throws in the first minute out of the break.
Outside of the Bluejays pulling within 14 with under seven minutes to go, Georgetown gradually extended their lead in the diminishing minutes, and upped it to 57-36 after a Govan jumper.
Creighton only scored three points the final 6:55, on a night where the Hoyas assisted on 20 of their 29 made field goals.
“We were going through too many stretches where we were settling,” Thompson III said. “Today, and we worked on it a lot, let’s get to our third, fourth, fifth, sixth option. And you may get a good shot the third or fourth option, but let’s just keep churning, keep moving.”
Georgetown held Creighton, whose 52.8 field goal percentage ranks second in the nation, to its lowest offensive output and 34.5 percent from the floor. Creighton’s previous scoring low was 70 in the 10-point loss to then-No. 1 Villanova.
Last year, the two teams split the season series, with Creighton taking the first match-up, 79-66, and the Hoyas prevailing in the second, 74-73.
“When you’re going through a stretch like we were going through, I just want to give God the glory for this win,” Thompson said. “It feels good. It feels really, really good.”
Marcus Derrickson added eight points for Georgetown.