The Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team (6-18, 1-12 BIG EAST) fell to the UConn Huskies (18-6, 7-6 BIG EAST) on Saturday afternoon at Capital One Arena. While the matchup was competitive throughout, the Hoyas struggled on both ends of the floor late, giving UConn a 68-62 win. The narrow loss extends the Hoyas’ BIG EAST losing streak to three games.
Despite the team’s recent struggles, Capital One Arena was bustling as tipoff approached. Even in a bad year, there’s something special about a rivalry game that tends to bring out the best in Georgetown. The Huskies were clear favorites on paper, but in college basketball, you never know what could happen.
From the tip, Georgetown looked competitive. They didn’t really outplay the Huskies, but they never fell too far behind. After winning the opening tip, the Hoyas turned the ball over. UConn’s sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins made a three-pointer on the ensuing play. But the Hoyas fought back with a Jordan Riley dunk and a Brandon Murray three-pointer to take a 5-2 lead. The Huskies answered quickly, and the game fell into a tense back-and-forth. The score was tied at seven heading into the first media timeout. Neither team could pull away in the first half, but UConn seemed to be the better team for much of the first 20 minutes. With around eight minutes left, UConn’s graduate guard Joey Calcaterra hit a three to extend the Huskies’ lead to eight, and the game seemed to be done.
But Georgetown answered. The Hoyas battled back with a Murray layup and a three on the fast break from junior guard Jay Heath to cut the lead back to one possession. The rest of the half saw UConn jumping ahead and Georgetown catching up. The Hoyas’ defense was especially locked in, forcing a series of crucial turnovers near the end of the half to tie the game up at 31 heading into the break.
During most of the second half, Georgetown was still able to keep the game close. Though the half started with UConn freshman forward Alex Karaban making a layup along with a triple, Murray did the same to quickly answer and tie the game at 36. The Blue and Gray continued to play solid defense with UConn never able to stretch their lead beyond eight; a deficit that the Hoyas were able to quickly make up. With only a few minutes to play, the Hoyas trailed by just two. They then briefly took a 61-60 lead following a Murray layup and the subsequent free throw to finish off the and-one play. UConn called a timeout and Capital One erupted.
In a postgame interview, Heath addressed the power of the stadium’s atmosphere. “When the arena is packed and it’s a lot of people–everybody yelling–that kind of just gives you more energy, makes you want to play harder, faster, better and it’s an adrenaline rush,” he said. And for just a few minutes, Capital One felt like it was back to its old glory. A packed student section roared as the Hoyas took the floor, and in that moment, it seemed like this might be the upset win that would finally set the program back on track.
But the Huskies came out of the break looking poised. They scored five unanswered points, leading to a Ewing timeout with just over two minutes left in the game. The next play, though, was a wash. Murray got fouled on a shot but only converted one of his two free throws, leaving the score at 65-62. The Huskies drove up the court. With just under a minute to go, UConn’s senior guard Tristen Newton went up for a layup. Georgetown’s Akok Akok swatted it down. And for just a second, the Hoyas had hope.
But it didn’t last. UConn junior guard Andre Jackson Jr. snagged the rebound and kicked it out to an unguarded Karaban, who drilled a three-pointer to seal the victory for the Huskies. As the last minute wound down, Georgetown turned to intentional fouls and the student section slowly emptied. When the buzzer sounded, the score stood at 68-62. As the UConn fans in the upper tier of the stadium celebrated, a single Hoya fan remained behind Georgetown’s basket, holding a white poster board sign that simply read, “This is sad.”
In the postgame press conference, Ewing stressed rebounding as a key gap in the team’s performance. Speaking of the last minute of the game, Ewing said that those rebounds “are what hurt us, you know we were up one, got fouled, it was a one-and-one, we missed the front end and we got a stop…Those are game changing plays.”
The Hoyas will travel to Rhode Island for their next matchup against the Providence Friars (17-6, 9-3 BIG EAST) on Wednesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.