Georgetown finally broke out of their NCAA Tournament slump on Friday, but that win was only a mild reprieve from the Hoyas’ postseason woes. Poor shooting and foul trouble doomed the Hoyas on Sunday, who lost to a double-digit seed for the third year in a row.
North Carolina State advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 66-63 victory and kept Georgetown from reaching the tournament’s second week for the first time since 2007.
The Hoyas had a comfortable lead for much of the first half, but the first sign of trouble came less than six minutes into the game, when senior Henry Sims picked up his second foul. The center sat out the rest of the half, save for a token appearance in the closing seconds.
“We’ve got a group of guys that don’t depend on me,” Sims said. “They can handle themselves, so I wasn’t too upset.”
His teammates more than handled themselves for the first 10 or so minutes without the big man, building a 10 point lead with five minutes remaining in the half. Then the wheels came off.
The Wolfpack broke off a 12-0 run to take the lead while Georgetown went nearly five minutes without a basket. The Hoyas only got off four attempts during that stretch, committing five turnovers.
“They got a lot of open shots, some off miscommunication, and some tough shots, and then we started to turn the ball over,” senior guard Jason Clark said. “When you turn the ball over against a team that’s good in transition that opens up a lot of baskets for them.”
The Hoyas tried to shoot their way back into it in the second half, but with the exception of Hollis Thompson, they had a hard time getting the ball in the basket. Thompson broke out of a bit of a slump to score 23 points (17 in the second half) and singlehandedly kept Georgetown in the game. At one point early in the second half, the junior scored seven unanswered points to bring the Hoyas’ back from an 11-point deficit.
Still, the Wolfpack always had an answer—Georgetown never led in the second half. The Hoyas cut it to three on several occasions, but they missed on a number of three-point attempts looking to tie the game. Georgetown attempted 25 treys for the game, nearly half of their 51 shots, and connected on only eight.
“I thought they did a good job of protecting the paint,” head coach John Thompson III said. “When we did get it in, it was crowded, so kickouts were open. We had the right guys taking the shots, they just didn’t go in as much as we would like.”
North Carolina State clearly had the edge inside, especially when Sims was on the bench. Sims remained in foul trouble in the second half, picking up his third foul just five minutes in, and ultimately fouled out in the closing seconds.
Wolfpack forward C.J. Leslie had 14 points and eight rebounds. He tied with Scott Wood and C.J. Williams for the team-high in points.
Thanks to some poor free throw shooting by NC State, the Hoyas were able to claw back from seven down with just over a minute to go to have a shot to tie or win. Coming out of a timeout with 24 seconds left on the clock, Georgetown was down two and looking to get the ball inside to Sims. With tight defense on him, Sims kicked it out to freshman Otto Porter, who passed up a seemingly open three and then missed a pull-up jumper from the baseline.
“I thought Otto had an open look right there and didn’t want to take it,” Thompson said. “That’s fine. I’m comfortable with his decisions.”
The Hoyas had one last shot after North Carolina State missed another free throw, but Jason Clark’s three-pointer at the buzzer was too long.