Your Georgetown Hoyas have now won four of their last six games since coming back from that COVID pause (and accompanying mental reset), picking up a win tonight over the Seton Hall Pirates by a score of 81-75. Jamorko Pickett contributed first and often for the Hoyas tonight, tallying 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Chudier Bile dropped 16 on 6/12 shooting while Dante Harris added 14 points and 8 assists. Donald Carey had 11 points, eight of which were distributed between two 3-pointers where he drew the foul and sunk the free throws. Qudus Wahab rounded out the double-figures brigade with a double-double, while Jahvon Blair’s five assists were critical to facilitating the offense.
Instead of scheduling a makeup game mid-week after last week’s 15-point victory over Butler, Georgetown focused on their chance to even the BIG EAST season series with the Pirates, who had won their last four games. Main questions going into the game centered around controlling Sandro Mamukelashvili, who would challenge Wahab and Timothy Ighoefe down low, and preventing Myles Cale from reprising his 30-point performance from back in late December. On game day, we learned from Coach Kevin Willard that grad transfer Bryce Aiken’s knee was going to keep him out of the backcourt lineup.
The game got off to a quick start, with the teams trading baskets and the expected players getting on the board early, as Pickett, Mamu, and Blair all had early buckets. Between the elevated pace of the game and CBS’ scorebug issues, it was a frenetic trip to a 14-11 lead for Georgetown at the U16 media break. Consistent execution overall from the Hoyas kept them ahead, but the turnover woes were not completely absent, with one particular miscue being parlayed into an easy transition bucket for for Takal Molson. There was on tense moment early, when Ighoefe went headfirst into Carey’s hip and came up holding his neck, but after a quick checkup on the sideline he rejoined the lineup with no noticeable ill-effects.
One of the apparent roadblocks to Georgetown getting (or keeping) advantages has been their relative inability to capitalize on opponents’ miscues or scoring droughts. Tonight, while SHU was having trouble finding the bottom of the net, unanswered contributions from Harris, Bile, Carey and Wahab built the Hoyas a 28-18 lead with 9:01 remaining in the first half. The Pirates shooting touch returned at this point, with a triple from Shavar Reynolds Jr. and a pair from beyond the arc by Mamu cutting into the Georgetown advantage. Bile got the floater after Pickett recovered a miss, Pickett again stepped up and drained a 15’ jumper, and Ighoefe had a positively monster block, but less-targeted shot selection and a handful of turnovers provided an opening for the Pirates. The Hoyas did get a key stop in the final minute to keep Seton Hall from getting another possession, and went into the break with a slim 38-35 advantage.
Georgetown’s first order of business in the second half was to give the lead back to the Pirates. A dunk from Ike Obiagu and another three-pointer for Mamu, punctuated by an unforced turnover from Pickett, plus a layup from Cale, and the Seton Hall had their first lead of the game, 42-38. Coach Patrick Ewing (understandably) did not like where this was headed, so he called an early timeout to allow the team to regain the equilibrium that they had apparently left in the locker room.
Happily, Pickett stepped up to stabilize the team when they were down 5 and at what felt like a potential tipping point. He scored an and-1 off the inbounds, and followed up a Mamu layup with a three-pointer that made it a one-point game. A triple from Bile tied it up 51-51 with 12:12 remaining; though Reynolds Jr. immediately answered with a layup, Pickett’s composed drive for the soaring and-1 (with continuation, from the look of it) put the Hoyas on top. A beautiful passing sequence from Bile to Pickett to Harris culminated in a triple to extend the lead. While Seton Hall would pull even once more at 67 at the 5:07 mark, Georgetown largely controlled the game from that point forward.
It was a balanced team effort to close this one out. Carey made the extra shot after being fouled on a triple, then forced Seton Hall to commit a late shot clock turnover on the following possession. Wahab battled alone in the paint to get into position for a floater, and Harris was nearly horizontal by the time he released the ball for an acrobatic lay-in that put the Hoyas ahead 75-69 with 2:30 left. While Georgetown’s wisest strategy with less than two minutes to go was to burn the clock, but just because something is simple does not mean that it will be easy.
Things got sloppy. The Hoyas turned it over trying to break the Seton Hall press. Obiagu let it fly out of bounds when the Pirates were on the offensive end. An uncontrolled Georgetown transition play turned it over, and Dante Harris went up huge to grab a rebound off a SHU miss, but the teams were still in disarray as he tried to send it up the court. His wild pass ended up in the hands of a Seton Hall player...who then threw it cross-court out of bounds. A pair of last-minute layups from Takal Molson kept the score looking closer than it should have been, but the Hoyas sunk enough free throws to remove any doubt that this one was over.
While the Hoyas ceded the 12-point first half lead and allowed SHU to draw even after the intermission, the composure of the overall roster and leadership of the upperclassmen allowed Georgetown to right the ship and get the W. The team was sharing the ball well, including Pickett and Bile being willing to look for that extra pass to the open men. The guards showed good court visibility in distributing the ball. Harris — who may be giving BIG EAST teams nightmares for the next four years — spotting the open man under the basket like a veteran, and Blair making smart, unselfish plays on a night where his shot opportunities (and shooting percentage) were not where he would otherwise want them to be.
Yes, turnovers are still a problem, but the sky is also still blue, and lots of other problem areas have improved for this squad, so let us allow ourselves to focus on the delusion. The Hoyas have improved to 5-7 in BIG EAST play, and a stellar 4-2 since the pause. Remember how things looked in mid-January and be very proud of this team.
Next up, Georgetown will host UCONN (woof) for a 9pm tipoff on Tuesday 2/23. which is set to air on FS1.