The Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team (1-0, Big East) defeated the UMBC Retrievers (0-1, America East) on Wednesday evening on the John Thompson, Jr. Court at McDonough Arena. Though the Hoyas started the game slowly and turned the ball over frequently, they rallied behind their critical returners to earn a win. Senior guard Jahvon Blair led all scorers with 23 points, while sophomore center Qudus Wahab collected a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Retrievers were hampered by injuries at various points in the game, and senior forward Brandon Horvath’s 13 points and 11 rebounds were not enough for the Retrievers to complete the late comeback attempt.
“They’re a big team, and we certainly had that drought in the middle part of the second half. I think their length had a little bit to do with it for sure. Obviously the difference in the game was rebounding,” said UMBC Head Coach Ryan Odom.
The game got off to a slow start after UMBC controlled the tip. The Retrievers missed their first two shots and the Hoyas committed two turnovers in the early going before senior forward Jamorko Pickett got the scoring started with a layup. UMBC answered with a 3-pointer from senior guard Darnell Rogers, but the Hoyas countered with a three off the curl for Blair. The teams traded misses and turnovers until the under-12 media timeout, where the Hoyas grabbed the lead on a dunk from sophomore center Timothy Ighoefe and a 3-pointer from Blair.
Georgetown went on a 15-5 run capped by graduate guard Donald Carey’s jumper from the elbow and subsequent 3-pointer. The Hoyas found themselves in foul trouble however, as UMBC was in the double bonus with 5:26 left to play in the first half. Carey continued his hot shooting, though, eventually converting another 3-pointer to put the Hoyas up by 11. UMBC answered with a 7-0 run keyed by a turnover from graduate guard Jalen Harris. Georgetown squandered several opportunities going into the half, as two offensive rebounds for sophomore center Malcolm Wilson resulted in no points, and Pickett committed a turnover, the Hoyas tenth of the half. Just before the break, though, Wilson flushed a two-handed jam, putting the Hoyas up 36-30 at halftime.
On Wilson’s first career appearance, Georgetown Head Coach Patrick Ewing said, “I loved the fact that Malcolm was able to come off the bench and play great for us. He only played three or four minutes, but he got a couple of blocks, got a tip dunk. He played well.”
UMBC came out of the half with energy, as Rogers converted one of two free throws on a foul and Horvath made a dunk to bring the Retrievers within three. Blair countered with a 3-pointer from the corner. Graduate guard Jalen Harris found Wahab inside for a dunk, and on the next possession, Wahab gave the Hoyas a double-digit lead. Coming out of the under-16 timeout, Wahab collected his double-double and the Hoyas enjoyed a 16-2 run culminating in a transition layup for Blair, forcing Odom to call a timeout, with the Hoyas up 17.
Blair finished another transition layup on the next possession as the Hoyas cleaned up their act and began to take control of the game, opening up an 18 point lead. The teams then traded several baskets, and freshman guard Dante Harris scored his first career points on a layup driving inside. Following an offensive rebound by freshman forward Collin Holloway, Horvat committed a foul and went off the floor due to a leg injury.
Junior guard R.J. Eytle-Rock made a nice drive, finishing over Wahab to reduce Georgetown’s lead to 11. Unfortunately, junior guard Keondre Kennedy had to be helped off the floor with a leg injury as well. The teams reverted back to their careless play, as the Hoyas had gone over six minutes without a field goal and UMBC committed several turnovers. Blair broke up the drought by collecting his own rebound and converting inside, and Carey extended the lead to 13 with a jumper of his own.
Ighoefe grabbed an offensive rebound following Jalen Harris’ miss and got the putback dunk to go. Rogers responded by drawing a foul and making both free throws before heading for the bench. Eytle-Rock stole the ball from an unsuspecting Ighoefe and converted a jumper, and Horvat drove to the basket to get UMBC within single-digits. The Retrievers went on an 8-0 run, but a miss from Horvath forced UMBC to begin playing the foul game. After Blair converted both free throws, Horvath converted on a quick three to bring the Retrievers within six. Pickett salted the game away with two free throws and the Hoyas emerged triumphant after a late scare, 70-62.
As expected, Georgetown dominated the boards and got plenty of second-chance opportunities due to their 21 offensive rebounds, partially making up for their poor shooting on the evening (37.3% FG). Ewing utilized a myriad of different lineups, but perhaps the most impressive newcomer from the eye test was freshman guard Kobe Clark, who showcased his strengths and hustle defensively while pulling down 10 rebounds in just 12 minutes.
“He did an outstanding job. As long as he continues to do that, he’s going to be on the floor. His energy, his effort, he did a lot of great things for us, not only the rebounding but his energy,” Ewing said on Clark’s performance.
UMBC fought admirably after Georgetown opened up an 18 point lead in the second half, but the injuries and the talent disparity were difficult to overcome. The other teams in the Big East will not let Georgetown off so easily, especially if the Hoyas continue to turn the ball over (20 TO) and get into foul trouble (19 PF).
In the first Georgetown game following the passing of former Head Coach John Thompson, Jr., Ewing said, “Coach Thompson is an integral part of my life. I had the opportunity to play for him, for him to be a mentor, friend, and confidante. I had a towel on to honor him.”
Ewing also discussed the Black Lives Matter patch and the messages on the jerseys his players wore, stating that “they’re using their platform to fight for their rights and keeping it alive. We’ve lost too many people to senseless incidents and systemic racism, and it’s something that has to stop.”
Georgetown will look to keep up the momentum with another home game next Tuesday against the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy (1-0, Patriot). Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and the game will be televised on CBS Sports Network. For continued coverage of men’s basketball and all Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.