Your Georgetown Hoyas remain undefeated in the 2nd Patrick Ewing Era. A dominant first half morphed into a blowout after the break, with the home team ultimately prevailing by an eye-popping 34 point margin on Monstars Night at Capital One Arena.
Mount St. Mary's endured a small exodus of transfers in the off-season, but Jamion Christian's “Mount Mayhem” squad was still expected to be one of the more challenging opponents on Georgetown's (much-maligned) non-conference slate. The fast pace, strong press, three-point shooting and presence of two 6’10” players made it difficult to discount the possibility that this team could make for a tough game. To put it in perspective, there is a jump of 44 spots in KenPom’s rankings between the Jacksonville Dolphins and the Mountaineers. Now that Coach Ewing's All-Star cheering section have returned to their regularly scheduled lives and the action would be viewed by a more typical
Tuesday Wednesday night crowd, it was time for the Hoyas to get down to the business of winning.
Georgetown got the ball inside early, demonstrating that the performance of the big men in the season opener was no fluke. Marcus Derrickson delivered, putting away two arcing hook shots on the first pair of possessions. If it could be said that the Hoyas showed a significant weakness in this game, their lapses on screen and roll defense that allowed for Ryan Gomes to attack the basket would be the culprit. After witnessing this twice and seeing Derrickson begin to flirt with foul trouble, Ewing called for a quick timeout to help his players regroup.
Junior Robinson, the most skilled and experienced member of the Mountaineers, skittered around the Hoyas’ defenders and was instrumental in saddling Jonathan Mulmore with two fouls before the first media timeout. Jagan Mosely came in to replace him, and despite the visual mismatch, did well sticking on Robinson and converting on the offensive end. The Hoyas guard lineup was thin this evening, with Trey Dickerson (who played 15 minutes in the previous game) sidelined in concussion protocol. In his absence, and in spite of Mount St. Mary’s commitment to the press, Mosely, Kaleb Johnson and Jamorko Pickett did an admirable job of bringing the ball up the floor while being constantly pestered by the Mountaineers’ guards. Team-wide, the rebounding effort was vastly superior to Sunday’s contest. Georgetown did have 7 turnovers in the first half, but those resulted more from errant passes than lax ball-handling.
Johnson showed himself to be a much more effective player than he appeared over the weekend, adding 11 points in the first half alone, including a beautiful layup that went over the defender and off the glass. He was vocal and directed traffic on the offensive end, indicating to freshmen Pickett and Jahvon Blair where they should rotate. Jessie Govan was dominant on his way to his second consecutive double-double performance, including a 4-point play and a layup where Gomes was whistled for his third foul. Pickett played with confidence, assertively collecting rebounds and taking a feed from Govan inside that was finished despite a double-team. He followed that up with a corner three on the next possession. Blair had a steal early, then showed excellent patience to put the ball on the floor after a pass from Govan so that he got the basket and drew a foul off Greg Alexander.
The Hoyas allowed an 11-0 run early in the second half, including an off-balance three that Robinson drained despite the presence of Govan’s large palm in his face. Fans collectively held their breath...and then exhaled. The frantic pace was cut short by a foul on the Mountaineers and a jumper from Blair. The teams traded baskets. Mount St. Mary’s was persistent, but the Hoyas did not panic. Led by a coach who looks wholly at home on the sidelines (to my admittedly biased and untrained eye), the team maintained both their composure and a double-digit lead.
Pickett took the ball the length of the floor in transition, switching hands as he approached the basket and finishing with a picture perfect finger roll. (The announcers compared him to Giannis, a fact which is recorded in this space for posterity.) Mulmore returned to the game midway through the half and promptly sent up one of his rainbow shots from outside the arc. When it dropped through the net, he became the 7th Georgetown player to record a triple.
The Mountaineers continued to attack, with Gomes and Robinson drawing the occasional foul inside, but the Hoyas man-to-man defense left Mount St. Mary’s unable to convert on most of their offensive possessions. Georgetown refused to allow a meaningful shift in momentum. When faced with a more aggressive press, the Hoyas broke it methodically, tallying a dunk from Govan and jumper from Blair on consecutive possessions. Antwan Walker got himself on the board, putting the ball away authoritatively off an inbounds play from Pickett to give the Hoyas a 30 point lead. Chris Sodom fought for a second chance offensive rebound and scored his first points directly over the top of Gomes.
Mount St. Mary’s deserves credit for continuing to throw pressure and maintain defensive intensity while facing a huge deficit. It was thrilling to see that Georgetown also planned on playing a full 40 minutes, regardless of what the scoreboard might be showing. Late in the second half, Mosely was still feeling it, sweeping Robinson aside and taking it all the way to the hoop for a layup. Ra’Mond Hines and George Muresan both saw time, and were on the floor as the Hoyas broke triple digits. With under a minute to play, Sodom backed down his defender to put away a long jump hook and followed it up with a block at the other end. This sequence was the cherry on top of an intergalactic basketball sundae as we celebrated the 21st anniversary of Space Jam.
In the end, Govan led all scorers with 20 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists. Johnson, Mosely, Pickett and Blair were in double digits as well. Derrickson, Walker and Sodom each grabbed 5 rebounds. The box score is a well-balanced masterpiece. While the Mountaineers' 3-point shooting was the talking point heading into the game, they connected on only 8 of their 33 attempts from outside. It was the Hoyas who ended up shooting 50% from beyond the arc.
Fans have all manner of hopes and lingering neuroses at the start of this new chapter in Georgetown basketball, but nothing is taken for granted and it all boils down to whether the team wins the games they are expected to win. Tonight, they did just that.
We are Georgetown.