How quickly things change. Earlier today, your Georgetown Hoyas were ranked #1 in RPI; this evening at McDonough Gymnasium, they fell to the Navy Midshipmen by a score of 78-71, in a performance that did not inspire much confidence. Jahvon Blair and Jamorko Pickett each chipped in 17 points, while Qudus Wahab notched a career-high 16 points to go along with his 7 rebounds. A nod also goes to Jalen Harris, who scored in double-digits and also contributed 7 assists.
You might even think to yourself, “That box score doesn’t sound so bad! Where did it go wrong?” The following key phrases should be all that seasoned fames need to hear, if they don’t feel like reading through a comprehensive enumeration of the game’s events: defensive lapses, energy deficiency, and scoring droughts.
Six posessions passed before either team got on the board to start the game, with John Carter fouling Jahvon Blair in the act of shooting from beyond the arc, and the Ontario native sinking all three. The Georgetown lead was short-lived and not to be seen again for many minutes, as the Mids answered with a three pointer, and followed that up with Tyler Nelson going reverse around Pickett near the baseline for an easy 2. Soon after, Wahab bit on a pump fake and sent Navy to the line. He got those points back almost immediately, however, with a strong inside finish (and the drawn foul) at the other end.
It was clear early that Navy wanted to dictate the pace & style of the game, and that the Hoyas were going to need to play smarter defense and rebound more effectively if they wanted to win. It seemed as though Coach Ewing had gotten this message across coming out of the U16, as Georgetown cut off a Navy backdoor pass and Blair knocked down a smooth transition triple. The teams subsequently traded misses, before newly-christened 100-point scorer Cam Davis put the Mids up 13-10.
Wahab was regularly being triple-teamed by more diminutive players in the paint, making it difficult to create his own shot or get a clean inside-outside play executed. Despite the overall height advantage of the Hoyas, the rebounding margin was not substantially in their favor (at any point in the game.)
The most beautiful moment of the game was almost certainly the crisp offensive set and ball movement which resulted in a clean 3-pointer for Donald Carey. This is a stand-alone moment. Aside from that, Georgetown was failing to capitalize on forced TOs and committing offensive fouls, which meant that they were not converting during one of Navy’s roughest execution windows.
Jalen Harris tied it up for the Hoyas and it looked like they might escape to carry this score into halftime, but John Carter Jr. nailed a triple for the Mids and it was 29-26 at the break.
The first five minutes of the second half, Georgetown was playing like a different team. They were energetic and executing well, and opened the half on an 11-0 run powered by a pair of triples from Jalen Harris and two smooth short jumpers from Pickett. When Wahab recovered his own miss in the pain and nailed the second chance jumper, the Hoyas had a 45-39 advantage between the U16 and U12 media breaks.
Things stopped being good after that. Navy got back-to-back buckets from Sean Yoder and Davis, and their cool shooting spurt concluded. Luke Loehr got the and-1 after an extended battle in the paint during which Wahab simply could not control a rebound. Wahab did answer at the other end, backing down Richard Njoku and finishing, but that ground was immediately ceded back to the Mids on a jumper from Carter Jr. Loehr scored again, and it was tied up at 52.
The Hoyas allowed Njoku to get an easy putback when they prematurely relaxed their defense after a miss, let Carter sweep in for a transition layup off a bad miss by Bile, and then the Mids made a series of three pointers. Navy was up 68-62 with 3:45 remaining; Georgetown was wallowing in a 4+ minute scoring drought and not getting stops.
That was the ballgame. A single triple from Harris could not stem the tide as Tyler Nelson drove in a couple of easy layups for the Mids, the Hoyas were kind enough to let Freshman guard Austin Inge get a steal and easy bucket, Davis drove to the bucket basically unconstested. Down 10 with 1:25 remaining, Ewing called another timeout. Coming out of that, Wahab knocked down a jumper and Pickett’s 3-pointer brought it to within five points with 19.6 seconds left. That margin was deceptive, as the Mids were able to gain points from FTs as the Hoyas fouled, and ultimately tallied a 49-point second half. (Did I mention that defensive effort was a problem?)
This was a disappointing result, and even more concerning was the apparent lack of effort and attempts at in-game adjustments from the coaching staff. You never know how many games will even be played this season, so losing a very winnable contest carries an extra degree of hurt.
Next up, the Hoyas play the traitorous West Virginia Mountaineers on Sunday, 12/6, at 4:30pm on FS1. Ready your self-soothing snacks and/or drinks.