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SINNERS AND SAINTS: Georgetown Sinks Sienna, 75-68

Hoyas’ 12-0 run under 10 minutes makes the difference


What is that “W” word again? It’s been so long, or at least it feels that way, but your Georgetown Hoyas got the home court win at home tonight in DC, defeating the Siena Saints by a respectable margin of 75-68. It was a more balanced effort than we have seen through much of the season, with four starters in double-figures and two halves of basketball that were played with relatively equivalent levels of energy & execution. Brandon Murray led the Hoyas with 20 points, with Primo Spears (18 points) and Jay Heath (16 points) hot on his heels in the scoring department. Qudus Wahab had a rough second half, but still managed a double-double that included 12 rebounds.

Siena already has a win over a BIG EAST team this season, having beaten Seton Hall less than 2 weeks ago on a neutral court in Orlando; the Saints also boast an early season upset over Florida State. Georgetown, on the other hand, came up short in both of their recent games against major conference opponents, getting overpowered in Lubbock (despite a brief, glorious 8 minutes) and snatching defeat from the joys of victory on Saturday when South Carolina came to play in DC.

Murray opened the scoring for the Hoyas, with a layup in transition after Siena bricked a three. Unfortunately, the Saints did triangulate the location of the basket correctly on their next trip up the court, and then did so again, with a pick ‘n roll basket from Wahab in the middle. While it should theoretically be a wise game plan to feed the big guy in the paint, a few missed passes and broken inside-out plays came up empty. The Hoyas’ decision to leave Platek alone outside the arc because they were over-helping on defense elsewhere (drink) allowed Siena’s hot hand to make his third triple ahead of the U16, putting the Hoyas in an early 4-point hole.

Heath’s free throw and a jumper from Spears pulled the Hoyas closer after the Saints failed to convert despite multiple offensive rebounds. Bradley Ezewiro committed a foul while preventing Stormo from completing a dunk and then hit some foul shots of his own, showing why he has become a favored option off the bench despite some non-noteworthy defense. Bryson Mozone shot his best in a Georgetown uniform against Texas Tech, and used a convincing fake to set himself open here this evening for a clean long jumper to tie it up at 16.

A steal by Spears led to a breakaway layup and Mozone hit a three, while the Saints kept pace at the other end. Wahab completed a pick & roll from Spears to once again pull even at 25, but another three from Platek just after the U8 followed by an easy layup from Stormo kept the Hoyas in check. Heath hit a layup, and Wahab finished twice in traffic under the basket.

Georgetown trailed 32-31 with 3:56 to play in the opening half. Effective defense and rebounding allowed the Hoyas to earn a real stop; they took the lead on a jumper from Heath. An unforced turnover by Siena set up another Heath basket, and the Hoyas extended their advantage — 35-32. Primo Spears hung around when nearly everyone from both teams was headed the other direction and was rewarded with an easy basket off a miss from Akok Akok. Despite an overreliance on tougher jump shots and mediocre rebounding, Georgetown took a 1-point advantage into the break.

Speaking of overly challenging shots, a high-arcing three from Spears sailed through, then on the next two possessions Murray threw it down one-handed and Heath hit a runner.

A clean block from Akok put it back in the hands of the Hoyas, and while the transition play was broken up with a deflection out of bounds, Wahab was able to convert off the inbounds. That put the Hoyas up 46-41, the largest advantage either team had managed thus far. A three minute scoring drought for Georgetown unsurprisingly allowed Siena to pull back to even. It was Ezewiro calling for the ball in the post & finishing that broke the deadlock, but he gave those points right back (plus one) as he picked up his fourth foul attempting to defend Stormo under the basket at the other end mere seconds later.

Spears broke into a deeply concerning 8-0 swing by the Saints, then a pair of triples (and a pair of foul shots) by Murray, and a transition follow basket by Heath swung the momentum into a 12-0 Hoyas run in barely 90 seconds.

With Georgetown ahead 62-56, Maciariello called timeout for his Saints to regroup. There was a moment of concern as Murray landed with an oddly-buckled leg after snagging a defensive rebound, but he appeared to walk it off and stayed in the game, swirling a floater in to keep the Hoyas lead at six points, 67-61 with 4:50 to play.

When Spears missed the front end of a 1-and-1 coming out of the U4 and Siena converted on the other end, I briefly contemplated whether it was time to steel myself for a negative turning point…because that is the type of behavioral self-preservation response that has been both conditioned and reinforced. Instead, Heath hit a three then snagged a steal to feed Akok for another Hoyas basket, putting Georgetown ahead by eight.

The Hoyas were struggling to find an open look through the Siena press and double team, but eventually Murray drew the foul and converted one of two from the line. Sufficient defense and shooting that had mercifully reverted to the mean prevented the Saints from converting at their end. A key offensive rebound by Akok set up a clean triple by Spears that created the slightest bit of breathing room for Georgetown, leading 75-66 with 45 seconds remaining...immediately followed with a head-smacking foul from Spears that allowed the Saints to make up two points with no time coming off the clock. That represented the end of the scoring, as the teams traded steals but no baskets in the waning seconds.

Thankfully, the Hoyas were sufficiently stable through both halves and were able to close this one out, winning by a score of 75-68. Existing issues still exist, we all know what they are, and rehashing those serves no constructive purpose when we need to look ahead.

Georgetown travels up to the frigid arena-formerly-known-as-the-Carrier-Dome this weekend for the annual engagement with the traitors. Hoyas and the Orange tip off at 1pm on Saturday, 12/10, airing on ABC.

Remember the hate. It’ll be a nice break from aggrieved introspection!

Hoya Saxa. BEAT CUSE.