It was an ugly, rainy cold morning in DC today so naturally the game had to start with a similar feel. Your Georgetown Hoyas had zero field goals in the first four minutes, but thankfully the South Carolina Gamecocks could not take advantage. A favorite part in the opening minutes was how many times we heard the commentators say, with surprise in their voice, “That’s a good defensive rotation by Georgetown!” There wasn’t praise for the defense late in this one, or in overtime, as the Hoyas disgracefully dropped a very winnable game 74-71.
Back to the game, the first thing noticed was Wahab staying in as the starting center despite backup transfer Brad Ezewiro clicking better on both ends of the court in a reserve role. The most frustrating part was seeing Wahab, who has had struggles passing out of a double team, choose to pass out of one early in the first half after a missed bunny layup. Turns out, this was a only foreshadowing further passed-up opportunities as Donny Marshall later remarked “Wahab should never never pass when there’s one guy on you who’s only 6-5.”
Hoya fans finally got what they wanted a few minutes later as Ezewiro came in to spell Wahab and had an instant impact. Brad bullied his defenders down low leading to back-to-back up layups in quick succession. The energy of the team was definitely different once Brad came in and got those buckets as the Hoyas began to control the game for the rest of the half including a nice 11-0 run over 3 minutes. In the last two minutes of the game there was a scary collision under the rim that saw both Wahab and Brandon Murray left on the floor in pain. Murray went straight to the locker room, but would eventually return after the break. With the crowd getting into it, the Hoyas found themselves up 37-26 at halftime. Surely they would be prepared to defend this lead in the second half… right?
Despite this success, one would be remiss without pointing out that on a number of occasions it still looks like this team is being told to move the ball … but not with a plan of action. The ball does in fact need to move more but this team has a habit of doing so without a purpose. This proved costly as the Gamecocks (read: GG Jackson) quickly asserted themselves and found themselves going basket for basket with the Hoyas, slowly chipping away at their lead. Thankfully, the Hoyas found their swagger on defense forcing some more turnovers and even leading to a fun alley-oop dunk by Akok Akok!
Then the tweet came out of @GeorgetownHoops… You may have missed it as it was (rightfully) deleted almost instantly, but the Georgetown Hoops social media team referred to the Hoyas as “Dunk City.” A few grabbed screenshots, because it was only posted very briefly, but the damage was done. Only a few minutes later, South Carolina found themselves with a small lead. Doomed.
With three minutes to go the Gamecocks took a one possession lead, swarming the Hoyas and forcing them to take bad shot after bad shot. In a season that has already seen three halftime leads blown to mid-major schools, this one stings as South Carolina is not too far removed from getting blown out by our DC neighbors, George Washington.
With a minute to go Georgetown found themselves down three and were able to quickly drive to make it a one-point game. South Carolina would then take the ball down the court to run clock, with Jackson nearly turning it over looking for an assist. The Gamecocks had to inbound with 20 seconds left on the shot clock (37 left in the game). Primo Spears would foul on the reach in with 12 seconds left on the shot clock (24 overall) for the 1-1 but SC would miss. Georgetown grabbed the rebound and with 15 seconds left Primo had the ball and got the mid range jumper to take the lead!
Credit to Spears, a lot of us (myself included) have been hard on him and some of his hero ball play, but he came up big when it mattered most to help take the lead. After the shot, South Carolina would try to push the ball up the court quickly but ended up in an out-of-bounds turnover. It was Georgetown ball with only a few ticks of the clock left. The Hoyas looked to be home free... then the referees reviewed the play on the monitor.
In the replay, Jay Heath grabbed a handful of jersey and opened the door for the Gamecocks. Once the refs brought the coaches over, Pat Ewing’s expression after their decision would say it all. South Carolina would be awarded a flagrant foul and get two free throws plus the ball with 3 seconds left in the game. After making only one of two free throws, the game was tied at 65 and the Gamecocks had the ball. Jackson’s shot fell short, sending the game to OT.
Overtime was an ugly mess with missed shots, missed free-throws, and bad passes by both teams. Unfortunately, South Carolina was able to do just a little bit better in each department and took advantage of the sluggish Hoyas and claimed a one-possession lead for almost the entire extra period.
After two Jay Heath free-throws to tie the game at 71, South Carolina would take the ball up the court and call a timeout with 47 seconds remaining. There was an ugly attempt that hit the side board and an almost-Hoya turnover, but South Carolina’s Meechie Johnson hit a deep 3 with 25 seconds to go to reclaim the lead 74-71.
With 20 seconds left, the Hoyas tried to draw up a play to keep the game alive but alas… an okay-look in the corner for Heath on the missed three, followed by a desperation heave by Spears which also missed, . The Hoyas would lose the game 74-71—another game where they claimed a double-digit halftime lead on their home floor.
Considering how empty Cap One looked in the first half, it looked like it filled out better after the USMNT’s tragic loss to the Netherlands. Hats off to Georgetown’s fans and students in attendance. The Hoya faithful continues to be great despite the disappointment.
I have no words of condolence as this one stings just like the rest of them #SportsIsPain