The Georgetown men’s basketball team (1-0, Big East) began its season Tuesday night at home with a 68-53 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore (0-1, MEAC). The Hoyas got off to a slow start, but eventually found their groove on offense and were up by double digits for most of the game. Senior center Jessie Govan led the Hoyas with 13 points on an efficient five of seven shooting, but the Hoyas got scoring contributions from a variety of sources, as seven players scored at least seven points. On the defensive end, Georgetown’s size overwhelmed the Hawks who frequently had to resort to shots from deep, which they converted at a paltry 8.3 percent clip.
The game got off to an exciting start for the hosts, as freshman guard Mac McClung hit a pull-up jump shot from the right side for the first points of the season and his first bucket as a Hoya. Three minutes later, his freshman backcourt mate James Akinjo had his first highlight play, threading the needle to sophomore guard Jamorko Pickett, who cut to the basket for an easy layup. Asked about the decision to start the freshmen guards over more experienced backcourt players, sophomore Jahvon Blair and junior Jagan Mosely, head coach Patrick Ewing was adamant.
“That’s my starting lineup,” he said. “They’re two terrific players. Nothing against Blair or Mosely, but that’s who I want to start.”
From there, the Hawks were able to keep it a one-possession game, until Akinjo scored his first collegiate points with back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Hoyas up 15-9 eight minutes into the game. Two straight Georgetown turnovers again allowed Eastern Shore to climb back within three points midway through the first half, but the Hoyas clamped down defensively and went on a 13-0 run, capped off by a Govan 3-pointer from the top of the key to put his team up 31-15.
A late spurt from the Hawks brought the score to 31-21 going into the halftime break, as UMES was able to capitalize on some sloppy ball handling from the Hoyas. Head coach Clifford Reed utilized a press against Georgetown’s quick young guards and found success.
“I thought from that standpoint we really did a good job of pressuring their guards,” he said. “The intensity, getting after it like that. That’s how we’ve been practicing.”
Georgetown committed 19 total turnovers on the game, with McClung and Akinjo accounting for seven.
Coming out of the locker room, McClung immediately got the momentum on his team’s side after intercepting a pass and finishing with a sensational reverse dunk on the other end. Early in the second half, Reed switched to a zone defense, and the Hoyas were forced to work the ball around the perimeter. Some excellent ball movement two minutes into the half eventually found its way to Pickett in the corner, who converted his second 3-pointer of the night. Pickett had 11 points total on an efficient four of five from the field. After the game, Ewing was satisfied with the sophomore’s all-around play.
“I thought he played great. We have a lot of firepower on this team. A lot of guys that can score, he said. “He’s the type of player that can knock down shots, but he also can rebound, and he can also block shots. So, he has to continue to do all the things that he can do. Not predicate his game on just scoring.”
At the eight minute mark, freshman forward Josh LeBlanc tipped in an offensive rebound, then intercepted a pass and found a cutting Akinjo on the next possession, who was fouled and made both shots at the line to extend the Georgetown lead to 19. LeBlanc was active all night defensively and on the glass, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds in his collegiate debut. Graduate student forward Trey Mourning, who finished with seven points and seven rebounds, was blown away by the freshman’s performance.
“He was great. He was fantastic,” he said. “11-11 off the bench. That kid is special. He can definitely do a lot and help us out this season.”
Two minutes later, LeBlanc had another tip-in and the Hoyas had a 21 point lead, their largest of the game. A late run from the Hawks brought them back within 12, but the damage was already done, and Georgetown held on for a 15-point victory. In postgame interviews, the players were satisfied with the performance, despite some sloppy play early on.
“First game, a few guys had a few jitters, but overall I’m happy with how we performed today,” Pickett said.
The Hoyas return to action Saturday against Central Connecticut (1-0, Northeast Conference) at Capital One Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. ET, and the game will be streamed on FS2. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for basketball updates and continued coverage of all Georgetown sports.