Seton Hall Dominates Men’s Basketball in First Half, Comeback Falls Short in Big East Quarterfinal

March 15, 2019

The Georgetown men’s basketball team was beaten handily by Seton Hall 73-57 in the Big East quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. The 3-seed Pirates used a devastating first half scoring attack, spearheaded by junior guard Myles Powell. He scored a Big East Tournament record 29 points in the period to all but put the matchup away early on. Powell was supported by sophomore guard/forward Myles Cale, who scored 14, and sophomore forward Sandro Mamukelashvili, who added 12 and 10 rebounds. The 6-seed Hoyas were led by freshman guard James Akinjo, who was named Big East Freshman of the Year on Wednesday. Akinjo was the only Georgetown player in double figures with 15 points, while senior center Jessie Govan scored eight and grabbed seven rebounds in his final game at Madison Square Garden as a Hoya.

Georgetown (19-13, 9-10 Big East) started brightly, with Akinjo getting a shooter’s bounce on his first jumper. Fellow freshman guard Mac McClung then took the ball to the hole to even things after Seton Hall (19-12, 10-9 Big East)scored twice. Govan’s jumper and Akinjo’s second basket, a wraparound layup, pushed the Hoyas out in front 8-4, 2:20 in.

Then, things began to unravel for the Hoyas. Three consecutive possessions ended in a turnover, leading to seven straight points for the Pirates. Though freshman forward Josh LeBlanc’s dunk pulled the Hoyas within two, Seton Hall immediately extended their lead through Cale’s three. Georgetown then settled for jumpers from the likes of graduate student forward Trey Mourning and LeBlanc while Powell canned his second three. Senior guard Greg Malinowski missed a tough corner three and a layup upon his introduction, while two straight turnovers from seniors–forward Kaleb Johnson and Govan–led to four easy Seton Hall points. With the score at 29-15 with 8:35 remaining in the first, Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing spent his second timeout. Govan missed a running layup before Mourning had two forgettable possessions with a bad turnover and an off-the-mark jumper, the latter of which Seton Hall took advantage of with a wide-open three. Powell was making things look all too easy on the offensive end, breezing past Mourning for a reverse layup before finding Cale for three as SHU lapped the Hoyas, 40-19.

Towards the end of the first half, Powell chased history. With the Pirates up 20-plus, Powell hit three 3-pointers in quick succession from range, with a layup mixed in the middle, while Georgetown looked totally helpless on both ends. A final jumper from sophomore forward Jamorko Pickett brought the Hoyas within 25 at the half, but not before Powell had set the first-half scoring record in the Big East Tournament.

Myles Powell (13) celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer. Powell hit five threes before the break en route to a Big East Tournament record 29 first half points. (John Picker/The Georgetown Voice)

Georgetown’s leading scorers on the season, Govan, Akinjo, and McClung, combined for a mere 13 points in the first half. After the break, they got going slightly, scoring 12 of the Hoyas’ first 14 in the second twenty minutes. The team’s play picked up right along with their offensive drivers’, as the Hoyas went on a 12-0 run early in the period.

However, the Hoyas’ halftime deficit was so large that head coach Kevin Willard’s Pirates could largely take their foot off the gas. Surprisingly, Powell and Cale missed their first seven combined field goal attempts in the half, and Seton Hall went cold with their stars. The deficit still at double digits, the Hoyas’ hint of momentum was snatched away when Akinjo and Mourning missed in tight, while Seton Hall twice found their way inside. The scoring tapered off towards the end of the game with the outcome in hand, though Mourning scored four late points in his final Big East game in the Blue and Gray. When the final buzzer sounded, the Pirates had advanced, 73-57, and earned the right to play 2-seed Marquette (24-8, 13-6 Big East) tomorrow night.

In the disappointing performance, Georgetown shot 2-of-12 from beyond the arc and committed 14 turnovers. The Hoyas missed nine free throws and assisted on just seven of their 21 made field goals.

This ends Big East play for Georgetown. The NIT, the Hoyas’ likely postseason destination, will release its bracket on March 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET. The bracket reveal will be broadcast on ESPNU. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for 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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