A road win is a road win. Patrick Ewing remains undefeated as head coach of Georgetown, which survived leaky defense and shaky ball-handling Saturday night to beat Richmond on the Spiders’ home court, 82-76. The five Hoya starters all scored in double figures and Georgetown squeezed out just enough stops down the stretch to escape the River City with the Hoyas’ first road victory of Ewing’s coaching tenure.
This one wasn’t pretty. Georgetown was befuddled by Richmond’s fluid and energetic execution of the, Princeton offense, a system that presumably would have been familiar to the returning Hoyas who practiced back-cut and read after read last season under JT3. But the Hoya defense couldn’t stop the Spiders’ dribble drives, giving up a game- and career-high 28 points to De’Monte Buckingham, who got to the rim at will. Spider big man Grant Golden also tortured the Hoyas, scoring 24 points in the post and from beyond the arc.
An early five-point Hoya lead evaporated as Golden and Buckingham took turns pouring it in for Richmond, and the Spiders soon led by an equal amount as things looked grim for Georgetown. The Hoyas couldn’t get a stop, allowing Richmond to shoot over 60 percent from inside the arc while forcing just 8 turnover.s
Fortunately, Georgetown couldn’t miss on offense. The Hoyas hit for 55 percent from three, made more than half of their attempts inside the arc, and earned 26 free-throws, of which they made 22. Seven different Hoyas connected from deep, continuing an early-season trend that has Georgetown fourth nationally in three-point percentage (47.1%) and in the top 100 in the country in points scored from beyond the arc. The same small-but-quick lineup that made the Spinders dangerous offensively compromised them defensively, where Richmond ranks among the worst teams in the country in field-goal defense and below average in several other metrics.
Richmond’s lack of size on defense left plenty of space for Georgetown offensively. Jonathan Mulmore had his best game at Georgetown, scoring a career-high 15 points while matching his best-as-a-Hoya 8 assists. The second-year senior guard has looked more comfortable offensively in his first few games under Ewing than he did in a season under JT3, successfully slashing, kicking, and draining the occasional outside jumper. Having made key floaters and threes throughout the game, Mulmore made perhaps the game’s key play. With Georgetown ahead by just two points and under two minutes remaining, Mulmore drove from the corner, went airborne, and whipped a pass from under the basket out to a wide-open Jamorko Pickett on the opposite wing, beyond the arc. Pickett drained the three, putting Georgetown ahead by five and for good.
Mulmore wasn’t alone, as Georgetown’s offensive success was a team effort. Marcus Derrickson (team highs with 16 points and 9 rebounds) and Jessie Govan (14 points and 7 rebounds) are mainstays, leading the Hoyas for better and for worse (the junior bigs combined for 7 turnovers). Derrickson has banged the boards all season long, while Govan has been nearly automatic at the rim, in the mid-range, and from deep. Kaleb Johnson continued his improbable surge as well, making all four of his shots for 11 points, while freshman wing Pickett compiled an impressive 12 points and 7 rebounds, including the all-important triple off the feed from Mulmore.
This win won’t be enough to prove that Georgetown can contend in the Big East, but that’s not really the point. Ewing and the rest of the basketball program set out on a deliberately easy non-conference course, trying to give a green team plenty of time to adjust to a new system. Viewed by that standard, Georgetown’s win at Richmond was a satisfactory road win against a middling opponent. The Hoyas’ withdrawal from the Nike-sponsored PK80 tournament in Portland this weekend was frustrating, particularly as the faithful navigated a lo-fi online stream of a low-profile trip to Richmond. The strategic decision to go to an all-cupcake diet may have been an error, but Saturday’s win didn’t particularly prove as much. Georgetown largely fulfilled expectations by beating the Richmond, if not exactly overwhelmingly, in front of a hostile and animated crowd.
Now, it’s back to more cupcakes for the next few weeks, beginning with a visit from Maine on Tuesday. The Hoyas have some areas for improvement during these tune-ups, particularly ball handling (18 turnovers at Richmond), on-ball defense, and defensive rebounding, where Georgetown hasn’t quite been the spitting image of its coach. For now, the Hoyas can take some satisfaction in knowing that they passed their first road test of the Ewing era.