The Georgetown men’s basketball team (2-3 Big East) fell to No. 16 Wisconsin (4-1 Big 10), 73-57, in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday night. Senior guard Bronson Koenig led the Badgers with 20 points while redshirt sophomore forward Ethan Happ added 19 points and 15 rebounds. For the Hoyas, the only players to record double-digit scoring totals were junior guard LJ Peak with 18 points and graduate student guard Rodney Pryor with 14.
Sophomore center Jessie Govan picked up two fouls in the opening two minutes for the Hoyas and was replaced by graduate student center Bradley Hayes, making his first appearance of the season after being forced to sit out the opening four games. Hayes promptly made his patented jump hook for his first points of the season and was able to provide a steady defensive presence down low for most of the half.
Wisconsin’s slow pace limited Georgetown’s opportunities to run in transition. Pryor was the main scoring threat for Georgetown, making three three-pointers to open the half with a quick nine points. Peak added a couple of long two-pointers to keep the Hoyas within striking distance, but neither team looked particularly impressive on the offensive end in the first half.
At the break, the Badgers led 32-29 behind 14 points from Koenig and 11 rebounds from Happ. Pryor and Peak led the Hoyas with 11 and eight, respectively, combining for 19 of Georgetown’s 29 points at the break.
What was more indicative of how the game would go was the rebounding battle. At the break, Wisconsin had seven offensive rebounds to Georgetown’s one and 24 total rebounds to Georgetown’s 12, a surprising statistic given the return of the 7-footer Hayes and junior forward Akoy Agau seeing a fair amount of floor time.
For the second straight game, Georgetown began the second half lethargically, but this time, it didn’t have a 17 point halftime lead. Happ was unstoppable rebounding the ball. To cap a personal offensive outburst at the beginning of the half, Happ blew by the slower Hayes for a layup, characterizing how deflated the Hoyas looked coming back onto the floor.
Georgetown took more pull up three-pointers in an attempt to break the Badgers’ momentum, but nothing seemed to fall, and Wisconsin responded with numerous key plays, including a putback dunk from sophomore guard Khalil Iverson, to keep the team in red rolling.
Georgetown shifted to a 2-3 zone defensive scheme rather than its usual man-to-man and was able to stop Wisconsin from scoring in the paint, but the Hoyas were still unable to rebound. At one point, Happ was outrebounding the entire Georgetown team, and ESPN’s Jay Bilas remarked on the broadcast that he had never seen a Hoyas squad that had been so thoroughly “manhandled” on the boards.
For a stretch in the second half, Govan converted a three point play and Peak a three-pointer to bring the Hoyas within eight and the team looked poised to make a comeback, but a timeout by Wisconsin allowed the Badgers to settle their nerves and quietly put the Hoyas to bed, squashing hopes of a Georgetown comeback early.
The Hoyas had the look of a team that had surrendered, and Iverson was afforded another statement dunk, this time under almost no defensive pressure from any player in gray. Georgetown wilted to the final buzzer, allowing a 16 point deficit to accrue with minimal effort on either side of the court.
Georgetown finished the game with just a single offensive rebound, and even that wasn’t corralled by a player, but was a dead ball offensive rebound, meaning that the ball went out of bounds off a Wisconsin player after a missed shot. The Hoyas finished with 21 total rebounds.
Wisconsin almost outrebounded the Hoyas on the offensive glass alone. The Badgers had 20 offensive rebounds on their way to 50 total boards, more than double Georgetown’s total.
The Badgers advance to play the winner of No. 4 North Carolina (5-0 ACC) and Oklahoma State (4-0 Big 12) in the championship game of the tournament.
The Hoyas look to rebound, literally and figuratively, against the loser in Maui’s third place game tomorrow at 7:30 pm ET.