Men’s Basketball Defeats Richmond Despite Uninspired Performance

November 29, 2018

The Georgetown men’s basketball team (6-1, Big East) beat Richmond (2-5, Atlantic 10) 90-82 Wednesday night at Capital One Arena. Senior center Jessie Govan led all scorers with 29 points on 11-for-15 shooting, while freshman guards Mac McClung and James Akinjo added 16 and 13 points, respectively. The Spiders, missing two key players, held their own thanks to the play of sophomore center Grant Golden, who scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and freshman guard Jake Wojcik, who tallied a career-high 20.

Despite the win, head coach Patrick Ewing was blunt when assessing his team’s performance against their shorthanded foes: “I thought we played terrible.”

Both teams came out firing, as Govan and Richmond sophomore forward Nathan Cayo both had four points by the under-16 timeout. Then, Akinjo and Richmond senior guard Julius Johnson traded a pair of 3-pointers, as neither team seemed able to string together defensive stops. The Hoyas continued to feed Govan down low while opening up a 30-20 lead, but Golden and Cayo kept the Spiders close, scoring the team’s next ten points. A 3-pointer from Wojcik with six seconds remaining in the period brought the Spiders within five, 40-35, at half.

The visitors came out firing after the intermission, connecting on four triples before the under-16 break, which forced a timeout from Ewing. McClung pushed the Hoyas back into the lead, scoring the team’s next seven points, the last basket coming on an acrobatic layup after a feed from senior guard Greg Malinowski, who chipped in five assists on top of his season-high 10 points.

While Richmond stayed close through Cayo and Golden, Malinowski scored on back-to-back possessions, both times assisted by junior guard Jagan Mosely, to give the Hoyas a 73-62 lead. Though the Hoyas were unable to shut down Richmond head coach Chris Mooney’s Princeton-style read offense, they kept Richmond at arm’s length by continuing to feed Govan, who did his work on the block and from the free throw line (7-for-7 on the night) against the undersized Spiders frontcourt. The Hoyas made just enough defensive stops to give themselves some breathing room down the stretch, while McClung and Akinjo iced the game with six free throws in the final minute as Georgetown hung on 90-82.

“We just didn’t play. The way we practiced for the last two days was the way we played,” Ewing said. “If we want to win, if we want to continue to grow, we’re going to have to play harder, we’re going to have to share the ball… we have to stop being selfish.”

Richmond was able to hang tough throughout the game despite the loss of, as Mooney stated, “two of our three best players” in sophomore guard Jacob Gilyard and junior guard Nick Sherod. Ewing’s postgame comments were telling, and it’s reasonable to expect changes in the Hoyas’ minutes distribution, particularly in the backcourt, after what Malinowski admitted “weren’t the best practices” in the days leading up to Wednesday. Despite Malinowski’s strong game, worrying developments with the Hoyas wings included senior guard/forward Kaleb Johnson, who started all of 2017-18 when healthy, playing sparingly, while sophomore guard Jahvon Blair, a First-Team All-Big East Freshman a season ago, did not see playing time. Ewing called Blair’s absence “a coach’s decision.”

On his performance, Malinowski said: “Coach has said, we have such a deep roster, any man, any night, can step up and play well, and it happened to be my night tonight.”

Georgetown returns to action next Monday against the Liberty Flames (6-1, A-Sun) at Capital One Arena. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. ET in the Hoyas’ last matchup before they travel to Syracuse (4-2, ACC) on December 8th. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for more updates and coverage of all winter sports at Georgetown.

Will Shanahan
is a senior in the McDonough School of Business, and former Sports Executive and Editor of The Voice. He spends his days plotting visits to downstairs Leo's when the omelet line will be short and trying to recall memories of his middling high school football career.

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