Men’s Basketball’s Late Push Not Enough Against SMU

December 15, 2018

The Georgetown men’s basketball team (7-3, Big East) fell to SMU (7-4, American), 81-73, at Capital One Arena Saturday afternoon. Senior guard Jahmal McMurray led all scorers with 19 points and a 4-of-7 mark from beyond the arc for the Mustangs, and sophomore forwards Isiaha Mike and Ethan Chargois each added 17. Senior center Jessie Govan led the Hoyas with 17 points and seven rebounds, supported by freshman guards James Akinjo and Mac McClung who had 16 and 13, respectively.

“We need to win games like this,” Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing said. “Teams like this are the teams we’re going to be playing when the Big East starts.”

Georgetown began the game brightly, with McClung scoring the Hoyas’ opening four points. The lead would grow to 15-8 after a Govan three, before senior guard Nat Dixon hit a 3-pointer on both sides of the under-12 media timeout to cut Georgetown’s lead to one. Dixon hit another three at the 9:34 mark in the first half to give SMU a 19-17 lead, which ballooned to six points two minutes later at the end of a 9-0 Mustangs run. SMU held the lead for the rest of the game.

SMU would lead by as many as eight in the first half, but Georgetown went on a 7-1 run in the closing minutes of the first half to cut SMU’s lead down to two points with 2:16 to go. McMurray and sophomore guard Jahvon Blair traded 3-pointers before McMurray drew a foul on another 3-point attempt with 38 seconds to go. McMurray hit all three free throws, and the Mustangs went into halftime with a 39-34 lead.

“There were some stretches that hurt us, but for the most part, I thought we executed pretty well,” SMU head coach Tim Jankovich said. “I’m very proud of the effort, I’m proud of the win, and I liked the way we played offense, for the most part.”

At the break, Dixon led all scorers with 11 points, while Govan kept the Hoyas close with seven points and seven rebounds. The Mustangs shot 41.7 percent from 3-point range in the first half, outrebounded the Hoyas 20-19, and were able to get out in transition, with six fast break points to the Hoyas’ zero.

The Mustangs began the second half hot, jumping out to a 51-38 lead with a 12-4 run in the opening two and a half minutes of the period, highlighted by wide open 3-pointers for both McMurray and Chargois. Georgetown eventually settled into the half, but until the under-16 timeout, SMU managed to keep them at bay. Coming out of the timeout, though, the Hoyas quickly got back into the contest, and after a three-point play from Govan, Georgetown was back within two at the 14:13 mark. This would eventually establish a pattern for the game, as SMU withstood the run and answered with five points of their own, with McMurray hitting another 3-pointer to make it 61-54.

“[McMurray] got open. He made shots,” Ewing said. “Some of the shots he made were tough shots, but he got open.”

Georgetown got back to within two at the 7:25 mark with a Govan dunk, but just over a minute later, Chargois made SMU’s 10th 3-pointer of the game to put the Mustangs back up by seven. Freshman forward Josh LeBlanc hustled for an offensive rebound after Govan missed a free throw, and Akinjo made it a five-point game with free throws of his own, but the Mustangs would then extend the lead to nine points before Georgetown got back to within five after a putback dunk from LeBlanc.

“They just kept coming back,” Jankovich said. “I’ve been in this game a million times in my life where you get ahead and they just keep coming back, you get ahead and they just keep coming back, and you just know it’s going to go down to the last two minutes. You just know it is.”

Two McClung free throws made the score 74-71 with 2:18 to play, but McMurray once again answered with a clutch layup. The Mustangs got steals on two consecutive possessions before the Hoyas began to foul to save clock. Senior guard Jarrey Foster missed with his team up six, giving Georgetown a chance to get within a possession, but Govan’s 3-pointer was too strong. McMurray then missed the first free throw of a one-and-one, but the Hoyas couldn’t get out on the break as the referees thought McMurray had a second free throw to take. Blair airballed a 3-pointer with 16 seconds to go, and fans began to leave the stands as Mike knocked down two free throws to put the game beyond doubt for SMU.

Georgetown struggled from beyond the arc in the second half, going 1-of-9. Despite Georgetown grabbing five more offensive rebounds, the teams were even on second chance points with 11 each. Georgetown also had 13 turnovers, coming at crucial times in the game.

“We weren’t making shots,” Ewing said of the struggles from 3-point range. “For the most part I felt we got good shots, we just didn’t hit them.”

The Hoyas return to action against Appalachian State (4-6, Sun Belt) on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m ET. The game will be broadcast on FS1. For more coverage of Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.

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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