The Georgetown men’s basketball team (11-5, 1-2 Big East) could not hold onto a halftime lead against Xavier (10-7, 2-2 Big East), and fell, 81-75, in Cincinnati, OH on Wednesday night. The Hoyas were up by as many as 17 points in the first half, but could not maintain their advantage due to poor shooting and rebounding. Graduate student forward Zach Hankins led the charge for the Musketeers with 23 points and 10 rebounds. His teammate, junior forward Tyrique Jones, also had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Despite the loss, senior center Jessie Govan still put up big numbers with 27 points, including three 3-pointers, to lead all scorers.
Xavier scored the first four points of the game, but the Hoyas soon gained a lead of their own with three straight 3-pointers from Govan, sophomore guard Jamorko Pickett, and freshman guard James Akinjo. Xavier went back on top with a short jumper from sophomore forward Naji Marshall, but Georgetown would respond with 10 straight points, capped off by a 3-pointer from senior guard Greg Malinowski, assisted by Akinjo. Seven straight points from Govan soon pushed the lead to 13, before the Musketeers finally had an answer with a jumper from Hankins. The teams traded buckets for several minutes until the Hoyas eventually pulled ahead by 17, their largest lead of the game, on scores from Govan and freshman forward Josh LeBlanc.
With just four minutes to go in the first half, it looked as if Georgetown would head into the break on top by a huge margin, but the Musketeers quickly turned it around. Marshall, Hankins, and Jones each scored four points on a 12-0 run to close the half, bringing Xavier back within five.
The momentum had swung in favor of the hosts, and head coach Patrick Ewing had no quick answers to help the visitors coming out of the break. The Musketeers continued to find the gaps in Georgetown’s zone defense, and the Hoyas missed shot after shot. Xavier tied the game up just a minute and a half into the second period on an and-one from Jones. Govan stopped the bleeding with two straight buckets in the paint, but the Musketeers would not go away. The teams again went back-and-forth for a long stretch as neither squad led by more than three for eight minutes. At the 10 minute mark, inside scores from sophomore guard Paul Scruggs and graduate student forward Ryan Welage pushed the Xavier advantage to seven. Georgetown cut it down to three after Akinjo found senior guard/forward Kaleb Johnson on the fast break cutting for a layup, but the Musketeers soon went back up seven with four straight points from Marshall.
The Hoyas continued to fight and resisted letting the margin get out of hand, but were unable to bring the game within one possession until there was less than a minute remaining. With Georgetown in the bonus down five, Pickett was fouled at the 0:55 mark and made both free throws. The Musketeers were solid on their free throws down the stretch, however, as Jones made both of his with 34 seconds to go and, after a missed three from Govan, Scruggs did the same. There was a brief glimmer of hope when Akinjo made a deep 3-pointer with 16 seconds on the clock to pull Georgetown within four, but a missed 3-point attempt from Malinowski in the waning seconds secured the Xavier victory.
The Hoyas were unable to keep up their hot shooting from early in the game, as they went 3-of-14 from deep in the second half after going 7-of-13 in the first. Georgetown was also dominated on the glass in the second half. They had just ten rebounds to Xavier’s 20 and allowed Hankins and Jones to have their way inside, with the pair combining for eight offensive rebounds in the second half. The Musketeers took advantage of the extra offensive opportunities and came out on top to win their sixth straight matchup with the Hoyas.
After beginning Big East play with a solid victory over Butler (10-5, 1-1 Big East), the Hoyas have now lost two straight close ones, but will have a chance to respond on Saturday against conference cellar dwellers Providence (10-5, 0-2 Big East). The game is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 with live stats available at guhoyas.com. Follow @GUVoiceSports for coverage of that game and all Georgetown sports.
Image Credits: John Picker/The Georgetown Voice