Grinding through the gears: Georgetown gradually wears down North Texas

December 20, 2017

The Georgetown men’s basketball team (9-1, Big East) defeated the North Texas Mean Green (7-6, Conference USA), by a final score of 75-63 in front of a sparsely populated Capital One Arena. Junior forward Marcus Derrickson led the way with 17 points, and junior center Jessie Govan tacked on his seventh double-double of the season with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore guard Ryan Woolidge and senior forward Shane Temara kept the Mean Green in it for a while, finishing with 20 and 14 points, respectively.

“They were trying to take Jessie out of the game. That was their gameplan,” Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing said. “So we wanted to get someone else going.”

The teams traded baskets to start the game, with Govan and Derrickson coming out with four points apiece for Georgetown and sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart scoring five early for North Texas. The teams entered the first media timeout with the score tied at 10 before the Mean Green went on a 6-0 run, which included a stolen inbounds pass and layup from Woolridge, forcing Ewing to call an early timeout with 14:11 remaining in the half.

Georgetown responded with four straight points before Mean Green junior guard Jorden Duffy provided an extra spark off the bench, scoring five quick points to put his team up by seven before the Hoyas clawed their way back into the game.

Junior guard/forward Kaleb Johnson put a dent in the North Texas momentum with some scrappy play down low, and a deep three from freshman guard Jamorko Pickett brought Georgetown back within three points at 25-22. After trading threes, the teams went on a three minute field goal drought, and two Govan free throws at the end of that stretch brought the Hoyas within a point. Senior guard Jonathan Mulmore made a layup to take the lead back, but North Texas responded with five straight points.

Govan came up with a pair of important blocks to keep the margin from growing, and Blair provided some extra effort on the offensive glass, grabbing his own miss twice on the same possession, to help Hoyas close out the half strong. Blair hit two free throws before the Blue & Gray forced a turnover with 12 seconds remaining. Johnson went to the line and only made 1-2 free throws, but he still put his team ahead by a point going into the half.

The Hoyas took five more shots than the Mean Green in the first half, but North Texas took over twice as many threes, which kept them within a point at 34-33.

“Towards the end of the first half, we picked it up defensively,” Ewing said. “We picked it up defensively at the end of the first, going into the second, and that’s why we won.”

North Texas came firing out of the blocks again, torching the Hoyas with an early pair of layups from Woolridge before Temara hit a three to take a four point lead. Following the game’s pattern, the Hoyas fought back and eventually retook the lead, 41-40, with a Derrickson three pointer.

The Hoyas finally managed to build up some momentum following Derrickson’s shot. After a lob pass to junior guard Allante Holston for the Mean Green, graduate student guard Trey Dickerson hit a three pointer and Derrickson a layup to put the Hoyas up 46-42. Immediately after that, Govan blocked a three pointer from Smart and a layup from Woolridge, and though the Hoyas didn’t score, North Texas couldn’t capitalize, taking two trips to the line and only making two free throws.

“I think my timing has gotten better on trying to block shots,” Govan said. “There are going to be games like this where they try to stop my offense, so I’ve gotta make an impact another way.”

Sophomore guard Jagan Mosely hit a layup to take the lead back to four, and fired an outlet pass to senior guard Jonathan Mulmore, energizing the sparse crowd and forcing North Texas head coach Grant McCasland to call a timeout.

The Hoyas kept pressing their advantage, with Johnson answering Temara’s three with one of his own to prevent any North Texas momentum, and with Mulmore recording another steal and layup to extend the lead to eight points, the Hoyas were finally starting to pull away.

The momentum wouldn’t last though, as the Mean Green fought to stay within striking distance. A turnover from Blair led to easy points for Smart, and after both sides traded baskets, Temara hit a three pointer from the corner to pull the game back within five heading into the penultimate media timeout.

A 7-0 Georgetown run, capped by a Mosely and-one, gave the Hoyas a double-digit lead that they would never relinquish. The Blue & Gray cruised down the stretch as shots stopped falling for the Mean Green.

Despite shooting just 69.2% from the line, the Hoyas weathered a late flurry from North Texas and eventually finished with a relatively comfortable 12-point victory. With only one more non-conference game on the schedule, Derrickson feels confident that the team can play well in the Big East.

“Everybody’s stepped up and was confident in their shooting and has confidence in their abilities, so we’re looking forward to going into the Big East,” Derrickson said.

The Hoyas return to action on Saturday against Alabama A&M (0-11, SWAC) at 12 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for more updates and breaking news.

Jorge DeNeve
Los Angeles native. Still wondering where the Galaxy went wrong and decided buying Jermaine Jones was a good idea.

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