Your Georgetown Hoyas improved their record to 2-0 this evening, adding a victory over the Blue Devils of Central Connecticut State University. As will hopefully be the case many times this season, Jessie Govan was the leading scorer, contributing 26 points and 8 rebounds to the Georgetown stat sheet, as well as tirelessly following his teammates’ shots and scrambling to get into place for offensive boards. Trey Mourning started his second consecutive game and had himself a solid night. The senior racked up a career high 12 points, along with 6 rebounds, a couple of assists, and a block & steal to round things out. James Akinjo and Jamorko Pickett also ended in double figures. The Hoyas were without sophomore Jagan Mosely, who was sitting this one out with a shoulder injury.
Both teams had won their season openers, with CCSU coming off an upset at Hartford on Tuesday night where Tyler Kohl scored 30. Hoyas fans were right to be nervous about a Blue Devils player getting hot, but as it turns out, tonight’s biggest threat would come from freshman Ian Krishnan and his 29 points.
Getting the win was critical, but with that box safely checked, let’s look at how this matchup played out. Scoring opened with Govan knocking down a smooth catch & shoot three-pointer from the top of the arc off the pass from Akinjo. That process, or a variation thereof, would be successfully repeated many times throughout the game. Joe Hugley got CCSU on the board with an open three from the corner, then Mourning found a seam and laid it in after accepting a well-targeted pass from Akinjo.
Mac McClung had been given the unenviable task of defending Krishnan, who was able to hit the pullup jumper with the Hoya freshman guard’s hand in his face and give CCSU a 12-11 lead with his first basket. It became quickly apparent that the Blue Devils would be unable to neutralize Govan with single coverage, so Donyell Marshall implemented some zone defense and double-teams to cut down his opportunities. Jahvon Blair played limited minutes in the season opener, but the inside-out exchange between he and Josh LeBlanc along with another spot-up 3 off the pass from McClung provided the Hoyas with 6 crucial points in the first half.
Akinjo showed better court vision than Georgetown fans have regularly seen in awhile, being aware of his teammates’ movement and finding them with well-targeted passes even when lacking a clear line of sight. He was unafraid to draw contact to get the foul call, and is capable of accelerating up the court after a steal. Both he and McClung took some flat or ill-advised shots, but wisdom should come with experience, and the two freshman starters are getting plenty of that. Georgetown went into the half with a double-digit lead, scoring nine points off 11 CCSU turnovers while committing only four of their own.
Repeat after me: No lead is safe or comfortable. Krishnan began trading baskets with the entire Hoyas team early in the second half, and the overall pace was elevated for the duration of the game. One of the rare possessions where the offense took the time to get fully set, there was a beautiful zone-busting sequence where Pickett sent it to Govan in the high post, who passed it along and Mourning finished through contact inside. CCSU picked up momentum on a pair of baskets from Deion Bute and Kashaun Hicks. Things swung briefly back towards the Hoyas as McClung got a defensive stop then fed Govan with a lob, but a pair of triples from Kohl brought the Blue Devils within five.
At approximately 9:05 on the game clock, a glorious sound came through over the audio feed. A Georgetown player, shouting: “Look back, look back, top of the key!” It might have been Mourning, but regardless of the source, it helped Akinjo spot an open Blair at the top of the arc. The sophomore’s shot missed the mark slightly, but Kaleb Johnson grabbed the rebound, drew the foul and got two points for his team. Assertive verbal communication has been absent, and it was refreshing to see how leadership and teamwork turned a dead-end possession into something positive.
Soon after, there began a barrage which did not fully let up until the contest was nearly over. It seemed like a triple from Blair had given the Hoyas some breathing room, but Krishnan answered back. The teams traded threes, with Pickett reemerging to assert himself in a way after being maddeningly disengaged from the offense for most of the early minutes. The sophomore did pick up two fouls on the defensive end, but it was an acceptable calculated strategy, as CCSU was missing freethrows and leaving those points on the table. A sequence of coordinated offensive and defensive execution by the Hoyas finally stopped the shootout: a block and two foul shots from Mourning, a three from Pickett and yet another layup when Akinjo hit Mourning in transition. Georgetown was up nine with just over two minutes remaining.
Pickett padded the lead slightly with his fourth three-pointer of the evening, but a steal converted into a triple by the Blue Devils on the final possession of the game cut into that margin. Either way, Georgetown survived the second-half onslaught by countering with a hot shooting stretch of their own and walked out of Capital One Arena with their undefeated record intact.
Coach Patrick Ewing wanted to see better ball handling and fewer turnovers from his team in their second game, and that was largely the case. Akinjo once again had seven assists and after turning the ball over 19 times in the opener, Georgetown only coughed it up 13 times against CCSU. The Blue Devils did not have an effective answer to Govan and it seemed that the Hoyas were out of the woods when they went into the break with a double-digit advantage, but no lead is insurmountable. Georgetown hung on to win because the team kept attacking and were able to match CCSU shot-for-shot in the second half 3-point extravaganza.
Next up, the Hoyas travel to the midwest to face Illinois in the BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge, airing Tuesday, November 13th at 8:30pm on FS1.