Who-NC Asheville: Hoyas fall victim to mid-major again, drop second-straight

December 19, 2015

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Now add UNC Asheville to the list.

The Georgetown men’s basketball team (6-5, Big East) continued their woes against mid-major opponents Saturday afternoon, as the Hoyas fell to UNC Asheville (7-4, Big South) 79-73 in front of 7,467 demoralized fans at Verizon Center.

It’s the second-straight loss for the Hoyas as well as the third time this season they have lost to a mid-major opponent at home.

“We’re in a bad place right now. We got to pull ourselves out of it,” said Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III.

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Freshman guard Kaleb Johnson and senior center Bradley Hayes led four Hoyas to score in double-figures. Johnson had a career-high 16 points, off perfect 5-of-5 shooting, and Hayes had his third double-double of the season, 11 points and 18 rebounds, to go along with a career-high six assists.

Sophomore forward Isaac Copeland scored 12 points and sophomore guard L.J. Peak added 11, despite foul trouble that led to his fourth disqualification in five games.

The three-point line proved to be the source of much frustration for the Hoyas both on offense and defense.  The Hoyas attempted 22 three-pointers and only made four, while allowing the opposition to shoot better than 45 percent for the third consecutive game, as Asheville made 9-of-19 attempts from downtown. Freshman guard Dylan Smith paced the Bulldogs, shooting 6-of-7 from three-point range, for 19 points.

“The last couple of games our defense has been what’s let us down,” said Thompson. “It’s glaring.”

Smith led five Bulldogs to score double-figures in an all-around team win. Freshman guard Dwyane Sutton scored 17 points, sophomore guard Kevin Vannatta had 14 points, and sophomore guard Ahmad Thomas had a double-double, 12 points and 10 rebounds, to round out the effort for the Bulldogs, who have now won five games in a row.

“Georgetown is a power conference team in a big arena,” said Asheville Head Coach Nick McDevitt. “But my team held its composure together, stayed together, was tough, and we came out here with a good win.”

Playing from behind for much of the game, the Hoyas failed to take the next step after cutting the Asheville lead to 72-71 with 1:34 to play. Senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with 44 seconds left to seal the victory for Asheville.

The Blue and Gray jumped out to a 9-5 lead four minutes into the first half after a Peak three-pointer. It was the largest lead they would have the rest of the game, as the Bulldogs erupted soon after for a 13-2 run over the next 2:38 to take an 18-11 lead at the 12:40 mark. The Hoyas battled back over the remainder of the half to cut Asheville to 41-39 at halftime.

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Both teams played evenly to start the second half, with the Hoyas even retaking the lead, 45-43, at the 18:09 mark. A 16-9 Asheville run quickly followed over 5:17, as the Bulldogs grew their lead to as many eight points, 63-55, with 10:55 to play. The Hoyas slowly cut down the deficit, getting as close to one point, 72-71, after a Peak free throw with 1:34 left. Thomas responded on the next possession for Asheville, as Smith found him open underneath for a layup to make it 74-71 with 1:11 left. Georgetown never got any closer.

The Hoyas will look to snap their two-game losing streak Tuesday night, when they play at Charlotte (2-8, Conference USA) for a noon tipoff. It will be the final tuneup for the Hoyas before they begin Big East play at DePaul on Dec. 30. Thompson thinks his team can turn it around.

“I still believe in this group, but we just have to get ourselves out of this hole we’re in right now,” said Thompson. There is a lot of season left for that to happen and so we just have to fight.”

For additional notes from Saturday’s game, click here.


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