For just the second time this season, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (7-21, 2-15 BIG EAST) has won a game in conference. They came through late to win 68-62 on the road against a Butler team (13-15, 5-12 BIG EAST) that waxed the Hoyas 80-51 on Georgetown’s home floor earlier this season. The story of the game: the return of Qudus Wahab.
Once again, the center position would take center stage in this matchup. For the Hoyas, starting senior center Qudus Wahab would make his return after missing Georgetown’s last two contests for personal reasons. Butler, meanwhile, was without senior starting center and second-leading scorer Manny Bates, who had 15 points when these two teams met earlier in the season.
While Georgetown’s men’s team has so far this season been known for strong starts but weak finishes, the opposite was true in this game. After taking a brief 3-2 lead following a made three-pointer by senior forward Akok Akok, Butler would go on a 12-0 run to take their first double digit lead of the game just minutes in. Butler went on to add to this margin slightly and take a 19-6 lead. However, with Wahab back and playing against Butler’s backup center, he made his presence felt from that point on.
Wahab was a menace on both ends of the court, grabbing rebounds and blocking a couple shots. But most importantly, he was ferocious in the paint, both scoring the ball and getting to the free-throw line. Behind Wahab, the Hoyas were able to pull to within one point down 19-18 midway through the first frame featuring good defense and a 12-0 run of Georgetown’s own. After starting 1-of-10 from the field to start the game, Georgetown had completely turned things around, making 6-of-9 from the field during their run.
As has become a theme, though, after pulling in tight, the Hoyas gave up two three-pointers to Butler in a short span as the Bulldogs expanded their lead to 26-18. The Bulldogs would keep Georgetown at arm’s length down the stretch until a small Georgetown run through graduate forward Bryson Mozone and Wahab would once again pull Georgetown within one, 29-28. Once again, though, the Hoyas could not contain Butler from three, leading to two long-range makes for the Bulldog’s to pull further ahead. Georgetown went into halftime down 37-32. Butler made 6-of-13 from three compared to Georgetown’s 2-of-10, which helped them overcome the Hoyas 25-16 advantage on the boards.
The second frame started with some back-and-forth play, with Butler maintaining their lead up 41-36 early. Like before though, Wahab would take over the game for a brief stretch with a bucket early followed by a critical offensive rebound that he kicked out to open sophomore wing Brandon Murray for a three, cutting Butler’s lead down to 41-39. Led by Wahab, the Hoyas sported an 11-2 advantage on offensive rebounds to this point in the game. As power usual, Georgetown gave up a three-pointer defensively, giving fans flashbacks to what had transpired early in the game, but this time Wahab and the Blue and Grayresponded pulling once again to within one, 44-43, Butler. The two teams traded buckets until the score was 48-47, Butler.
It was at this point that things started to look truly dicey for the Hoyas. Following six straight misses, Butler used a small run to go up 54-47. The Hoyas, to their credit, responded. Murray, Mozone and senior guard Jay Heath all scored, taking Georgetown on an 8-0 run to help the Hoyas take their first lead since the score was 3-2 at 55-54 with just under eight minutes to play. The teams went back and forth for the next couple minutes, but with the score knotted at 58, Wahab came through in a critical moment with another bucket down low.
From there on out, Murray would take over, making his shots from the field and from the line and preventing Butler from making a comeback. For only the second time in 37 conference games, Georgetown would go on to win, 68-62 Hoyas as the final buzzer sounded. After letting up 37 points in the first half, Georgetown locked Butler down in the second frame, only allowing them to score 25 points.
Wahab finished with 14 timely points and eight rebounds (four offensive) on only six shots (making five) in just 26 minutes. Murray led Georgetown with 17 points, and Butler sophomore guard Jayden Taylor led the game with 21.
The Georgetown men will next take the court on the road against St. John’s (16-12, 6-11 BIG EAST) on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 9:00 p.m. For continued coverage of all Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.