The Georgetown Hoyas beat the UMBC Retrievers, 70 to 62 at McDonough Arena. Some fans will tell you that the score wasn’t a large enough point differential, others will say, “A win’s a win.” They’re all correct.
Despite rough patches for GU in this first game, there were plenty of good things to hold on to. But the more this humble blog contributor thinks about the opener in view the last 12 months, the realization that this game occurred was nothing less than a miracle.
Georgetown played a opening game in McDonough Arena, on the newly christened John Thompson Jr. Court, in front of cardboard cutout fans, while Patrick Ewing wore a polo shirt and kente cloth mask. Ewing had covid-19 six months ago. Thompson passed three months ago. The Hoyas played with 9+ new players, two of the top newcomers didn’t even play, and everyone wore Thompson patches and social justice messages on their jerseys, unveiled for the first time. Also, these Hoyas only practiced on campus for a month and are essentially living in quarantine just for the chance to compete.
Special Thx to our Univ leaders, team doctors/medical staff & operations staff for making today happen! Made it thru all the testing, tracing, PPE, quarantines & protocols to get here. Owe huge debt of gratitude to those behind the scenes! #ThankYou @GeorgetownHoyas @Georgetown pic.twitter.com/nL68bajbsq— Lee Reed (@HoyasAD) November 26, 2020
Yeah, there likely could not help but be some big gametime jitters, and I wish a certain senior leader demonstrated a bit more of a jump. But these kids are tough. This team competed on both ends and showed grit and promise. And college basketball is back!
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Patrick Ewing walked onto the floor at McDonough Arena surrounded by reminders of his past while looking for a fresh start. He stood on John Thompson Jr. Court with a white towel over his right shoulder to honor his deceased Hall of Fame coach. His Georgetown team wore jerseys that read “Respect Us,” “Equality,” “Speak Up,” “Stand Up,” “Anti-Racist,” “I Can’t Breathe,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Peace,” “Enough,” and “Justice” in support of the social justice movement, something Thompson spent his life fighting for...
Blair was the best player on the floor, finishing with 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He shot just 9 for 22, but he was able to create off the dribble and follow his own misses for second-chance opportunities. Pickett added 10 points and eight rebounds, but he shot just 3 for 15 from the field.
Georgetown found a way to win tonight without lighting up the scoreboard which has been an issue in the Ewing Era— Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) November 25, 2020
Last season Hoyas were 0-14 scoring less than 73
70 points in today's win was 3rd fewest in Ewing Era
2020 70 UMBC
2018 69 St. John's
2019 68 UMES
Jahvon Blair scored 23 points and Donald Carey added 13 to lift Georgetown to a 70-62 victory over Maryland-Baltimore Country in the season opener on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Qudus Wahab collected 12 points and 12 rebounds and freshman Kobe Clark had 10 boards for the Hoyas, who got off on the right foot after being predicted to finish 11th in the Big East preseason poll. Georgetown limped to a 15-17 record (5-13 in conference play) in 2019-20.
Wahad [yikes] scored on three consecutive possessions early in a 20-5 run — including nine points by Blair — to push Georgetown’s lead into double figures for good. A steal by Jamorko Pickett led to a fast-break dunk, followed by an offensive rebound and putback before a pull-up jumper capped Wahad’s spurt and made it 45-33 with 15:15 to pplay. Wahad’s steal led to a dunk by Blair that finished the run and gave the Hoyas an 18-point lead less than three minutes later.
Georgetown went on a 15-5 run capped by graduate guard Donald Carey’s jumper from the elbow and subsequent 3-pointer. The Hoyas found themselves in foul trouble however, as UMBC was in the double bonus with 5:26 left to play in the first half. Carey continued his hot shooting, though, eventually converting another 3-pointer to put the Hoyas up by 11. UMBC answered with a 7-0 run keyed by a turnover from graduate guard Jalen Harris. Georgetown squandered several opportunities going into the half, as two offensive rebounds for sophomore center Malcolm Wilson resulted in no points, and Pickett committed a turnover, the Hoyas tenth of the half. Just before the break, though, Wilson flushed a two-handed jam, putting the Hoyas up 36-30 at halftime. On Wilson’s first career appearance, Georgetown Head Coach Patrick Ewing said, “I loved the fact that Malcolm was able to come off the bench and play great for us. He only played three or four minutes, but he got a couple of blocks, got a tip dunk. He played well.”
On the other hand, there was plenty else that looked to be a work in progress. Georgetown’s half-court offense looked like a particular question mark, as the Hoyas appear to be short on play-makers, dead-eye shooters, and the other pieces of a functional attack. After a tweet-filled summer, senior forward Jamorko Pickett looked familiarly passive on offense, shooting just 3 of 15 from the field, largely failing to get into the paint with the ball, and sloppily turning the ball over 5 times. Starting point guard and Arkansas transfer Jalen Harris is as fast as advertised, moving the ball quickly in transition, but didn’t yet look comfortable turning that speed into production in the half court. Sophomore center Timothy Ighoefe was in true trick-or-treat form, exerting his will physically on some possessions only to set a moving screen or fumble the ball away on others. Too many possessions devolved into Blair dialing his own number or saw the ball frittered away off fingertips or out of bounds.
“This was our first time playing somebody other than ourselves. It’s still a work in progress … We did a much better job in the second half, defensively, keeping the ball in front of us to be able to go up … I keep telling the guys, in the future when we’ve got these wide open shots, we’ve got to make them.” - Ewing on the game
“Coach Thompson is an integral part of my life. I’ve had the opportunity to play for him, for him to be a mentor, a friend, a confidant and I had the towel over my shoulder in honor of him. All the things the guys have on their jerseys - they are using their platform to fight for their rights. We have lost too many people to senseless incidents.” - Ewing on draping a towel over his shoulder and athlete’s jerseys
Senior Jamorko Pickett was particularly ineffective, making just three of 15 shot attempts, and turning the ball over five times, in an ugly performance. Pickett will need to be better if the Hoyas are going to compete with Big East caliber competition. While it certainly was not Pickett’s best game, Ewing was still complimentary of the senior’s effort, defense and rebounding.
One notable storyline that followed Georgetown’s season opener was the absence of Northwestern State graduate transfer Chudier Bile and four-star freshman forward Jamari Sibley. While many expected Bile to potentially step into a starting role, Ewing indicated in his postgame press conference that he did not play due to an injury. Sibley’s absence from the floor, on the other hand, was a coach’s decision. Ewing gave little justification for this move, saying, “Jamari just didn’t play.”
"Jahvon Blair drops 23-points as Georgetown hold off UMBC, 70-62" https://t.co/7Gb5MCcMQq— Philadelphia Hoyas (@PhillyHoyas) November 26, 2020
But as was the case all night, the Hoyas had an answer for every Retriever run. They put together a 20-5 run in six minutes that helped keep them in front for good. The Retrievers would not quit, slowly chipping away at the Hoya lead. UMBC went on an 8-0 spurt with free throws from Rogers, and buckets from Horvath, Daniel Akin (London, England) and, R.J. Eytle-Rock to make it a seven-point deficit.
The Retrievers would end the game on an 11-4 run, but the comeback fell just short in a 70-62 opening day loss to Georgetown. Both teams shot under 40 percent with the Hoyas outscoring the Retrievers 40-24 in the paint. UMBC did force 20 Georgetown turnovers, turning them into 24 points.
UMBC and Georgetown battled in the early going with each team exchanging turns with the lead. L.J. Owens led the Retriever offense scoring their first five points, as the Retrievers led early 10-7. That would be shortlived as the Hoyas raced out on an 8-0 run to take back the lead 15-10 at the 10-minute mark.
Qudus Wahab appears ready to become the next big-time Georgetown big man. The sophomore center notched a double-double to open the season, finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Siena transfer Donald Carey also looked good with 13 points in the victory.
Georgetown turned the ball over 20 times, which UMBC turned into 24 points. That’s something the Hoyas will want to fix immediately, because if they keep that up against better competition, they are going to have a bad time. [#analysis!]
Ewing: “Kobe Clark did an outstanding job. He did a lot of great things for us- not just his rebounding, but his energy.”— Thompson’s Towel (@ThompsonsTowel) November 25, 2020
Kobe Clark made his college debut Wednesday in Georgetown’s 70-62 win over UMBC Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The former Vashon Wolverine only scored a single point after coming off the bench, but turned into the Hoyas’ second-leading rebounder, snagging 10 boards in the winning effort...
UMBC scored the first three points of the half and that was about it for an offense that couldn’t decide between outside play and driving inside. Georgetown started to take advantage of UMBC’s defensive difficulties and turnovers to sustained success. A three from Blair extended the lead to 39-33 and a pair of easy dunks from Wahab followed, 45-33. Two more baskets from Blair and a three from Pickett pushed the lead to 17, 52-35.
The Hoyas led 58-44 at the 10 minute mark but could not put it away. Much as was the case in the 2020 Big East tournament, the Hoyas went into offensive cryogenics and Ewing did little to adjust. Georgetown missed 13 consecutive shots over the following six minutes, but for its part UMBC scored just five points in return over that same period. As Georgetown continued its poor shooting, UMBC picked up the pace and closed the lead to six in the final 13 seconds before free throws closed out the game.
With three field goals over the final 9:36 of play, Georgetown finished the game shooting 37 percent from the field and 25 percent from three point range. Reporter Bobby Bancroft noted that Georgetown was 0-13 last season in games scoring under 73 points, and in fact it was the fewest points GU has scored in a win since the 2018-19 season opener versus Maryland-Eastern Shore, 68-53.