They’ll take it, but not in stride.
The Georgetown men’s basketball team (6-3, Big East) shakily continued its winning ways Saturday afternoon, as the Hoyas downed UNC Wilmington (5-1, CAA) 87-82 in front of 8,132 fans at Verizon Center.
After leading by as many as 25 points, 73-48, with 8:14 left to play, the Hoyas withstood a late 34-14 charge by UNC Wilmington over the next eight minutes to improve their winning streak to five games. A pair of made free throws from freshman guard Tre Campbell with four seconds left capped the scoring and iced the victory, the Hoyas’ fifth in their last six games.
Senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way for the Hoyas with a game-high 27 points off of 6-of-11 shooting and career-high 12 made free throws. Freshman forward Marcus Derrickson also added a career-high 15 points off of five three-pointers and sophomore forward Isaac Copeland had 10, as the Hoyas shot 50 percent from the field, including 53 percent from three-point range.
Redshirt junior guard Chris Flemmings paced four Seahawks in double-figures with a team-high 19 points. Redshirt sophomore forward Marcus Bryan had a double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds), graduate student forward Dylan Sherwood scored 14 points, and sophomore guard Jordon Talley added 11 to lead a balanced UNC Wilmington attack, which shot 54 percent from three-point range but only 37 percent overall.
After the game, Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III expressed his displeasure with his team’s performance in the latter part of the second half. Within the last 7:27, the Hoyas turned the ball over five times and UNC Wilmington shot 9-of-13 from the field, including 3-of-3 from downtown, and made 10-of-14 free throw attempts.
“I think our decisions offensively and defensively were not good,” said Thompson.
“We didn’t think the game well today, during the latter part of it,” he later added.
Georgetown took control of the game early on after a 6-0 Seahawks run to start. The Hoyas responded by erupting for a 25-7 run over the next 9:11 to take a 25-13 lead at the 8:17 mark of the first half. During a 2:32 stretch of the run, Smith-Rivera scored 10 consecutive points for the Hoyas. Smith-Rivera had 15 points in the first half alone, as the Hoyas entered the locker room with a 38-28 lead.
“I just wanted to start it off early and be aggressive toward them,” said Smith-Rivera. “That was kind of the game plan for all of us, just cut, be strong with the ball. We knew they were going to try to push up on us.”
And UNC Wilmington certainly did push up. The Seahawks, who rank second nationally in forcing turnovers, pressed after every made basket or free throw for the entirety of game with a myriad of defensive setups that caused problems for the Hoyas, especially late. The Blue and Gray turned the ball over 16 times in the game.
“That’s what they do, they want to get you going, they want to speed you up and they want to take you out of your comfort zone,” said Thompson. “If they foul they don’t care because they have so many bodies, quality bodies, they have so many good players.”
The Seahawks’ aggressiveness set the tone for the game, as both teams were in the penalty early on in both halves. Overall, 43 fouls were called and senior center Bradley Hayes and sophomore guard L.J. Peak both fouled out for the Hoyas.
Thompson was especially concerned with Peak’s disqualification, as Saturday marked the third time, including the Duke and Syracuse games, this season that he has has fouled out. He thinks that Peak has “gotten the short end of the stick a lot,” but emphasized the delicate nature of solving the dilemma.
“I don’t want to take away his aggression, I don’t want to away his energy, I don’t want to take away his fire on defense, but we have to figure out a way to keep him on the court a little bit.”
Georgetown returns to action Tuesday, Dec. 15, against Monmouth (5-3, 1-1 MAAC) with tip-off slated for 7:30 p.m. The Hoyas will look to improve their winning streak to six games in the penultimate game of their current seven-game homestand. It will be one of the three final tune-ups for the Blue and Gray before Big East play begins on Dec. 30 at DePaul.
“I think we are progressing, but we also understand and know that we have a long way to go and a long way we can go. We want to continue incrementally improve,” said Thompson. “We know we have to get better.”
For additional news and notes from today’s game, click here.