The 2018-19 men’s basketball season was a mixed bag. With an overall record of 19-14, the Hoyas ended the season with two first-round tournament eliminations in the Big East tournament and the National Invitation Tournament.
The Hoyas opened their season at home at Capital One Arena against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Georgetown came out on top with a 68-53 victory over the Hawks after performing well on both the offensive and defensive ends. Freshman forward Josh LeBlanc made his Georgetown debut with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Blue and Gray followed up this victory with two more, one against Central Connecticut State University and the next against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Its game against Illinois was the team’s first on the road and featured a clutch jump shot made by freshman guard James Akinjo with just 39 seconds left in the game. The Hoyas were up by just one point and Akinjo’s performance solidified the victory.
Following this victory, the Hoyas traveled to Montego Bay to compete in the Jamaica Classic. They lost their first game against Loyola Marymount University, but came out on top with the victory against the University of South Florida. With just 4.9 seconds left, Akinjo came up big for the Hoyas once again with a clutch three-pointer to tie the game. Strong performances by Akinjo and senior center Jessie Govan in overtime led the team to a 76-73 victory.
The Hoyas returned home from Jamaica to play three consecutive non-conference games at Capital One, all of which they won. Following these uplifting victories, Georgetown traveled to New York to face its historical rival Syracuse University. After an intense game filled with remarkable performances by Govan and freshman guard Mac McClung, the Hoyas lost in the last 2.8 seconds because of a jump shot landed by Syracuse junior guard Tyus Battle. The heartbreaking loss sent the Hoyas home with a record of 7-2.
Following an uneventful conclusion to nonconference play, the Hoyas opened conference play in Indianapolis, Ind., with an 84-76 victory over Butler University as senior guard Greg Malinowski made a name for himself with 26 points and seven rebounds on 10-12 shooting including 6-7 from deep — probably the best single game performance by a Hoya at any point in the season.
After a heartbreaking overtime home loss to St. John’s University and a road loss at Xavier University during which the Hoyas blew an early 17 point lead, Georgetown had its first conference game with students back from break as the Hoyas played host to Providence College on Jan. 12. After the Hoyas fell behind by a 36-34 score at halftime, McClung led a comeback that culminated in his hitting a buzzer beater from nearly half court to force overtime. In overtime, Akinjo hit a three-pointer from well beyond the NBA three-point line to force a second overtime period, one which ended in the Hoyas sealing a 96-90 victory over the Friars.
The Hoyas continued their stretch of intensely close games with consecutive losses at home, as the Marquette University Golden Eagles defeated the Hoyas 74-71 after losing proficient scoring junior Markus Howard to an injury three minutes into the game and Creighton took down the Hoyas in a high-scoring 91-87 affair at Capital One Arena.
Strong second-half performances from McClung and LeBlanc led to a 89-78 victory on the road against St. John’s on national television, before the Hoyas returned home for a clean 80-73 victory over Xavier.
The Hoyas then entered a tough part of their schedule, which left them with little hope of making it to March Madness. A 12-point road loss to perennial Big East contender Villanova University was followed by the Hoyas’ second victory over Providence, this one decided by a final score of 76-67 in Providence, R.I. After this win, however, the Hoyas lost a home heartbreaker to the Butler Bulldogs 73-69 before traveling to Newark, N.J., where they lost to the Seton Hall University Pirates by 15.
The Hoyas then celebrated a Feb. 20 snow day by getting their first victory over a Top-25 team of the season, taking down the Villanova Wildcats 85-73 in front of a crowd packed with students as Govan and McClung provided strong offensive performances. After a tough road loss at Creighton, the Hoyas returned home to defeat DePaul University 82-73, led by strong performances from freshmen.
Spring break started with an exciting double overtime home victory over Seton Hall before an embarrassing 32-point loss at DePaul. The regular season ended with a strong victory at powerhouse Marquette, led by the late clutch plays from Akinjo and sophomore guard Jamorko Pickett.
The Hoyas, as happened regularly throughout the year, were unable to carry over any momentum from the huge win at Marquette, as a blowout loss to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament sealed the Hoyas’ fate to play in the NIT.
In the first round of the NIT, Georgetown played host to the Harvard University Crimson, where late turnovers in the second half led to the Hoyas ending their season with an upset 71-68 loss
It seemed as though the Hoyas paired every high of a great win with the low of a disappointing loss. Despite this, the Hoyas did better in their 2018-19 season than they had in the previous 2017-18 season, their first season with Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85).
Govan enjoyed his second year as the team’s high scorer, with 579 points, averaging 17.5 points per game and starting all 33 games of the season. Govan and three fellow seniors, guard Malinowski, forward and guard Kaleb Johnson and forward Trey Mourning, all graduated from the program in 2019. Malinowski scored a total of 188 points, averaging 5.7 per game; Johnson scored 135 points with an average of 4.4 per game; and Mourning scored 164 points with an average of 6.3 per game.
Freshman forward Grayson Carter transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington in search of more playing time after playing in 14 games for the Hoyas last season. The decision will keep him ineligible to play until the 2020-2021 season.
Freshman guards McClung and Akinjo as well as freshman forward LeBlanc became campuswide names as the three became the top three scorers after Govan, with Akinjo scoring 442, McClung scoring 380 and LeBlanc scoring 299.
However, these impressive stats could not keep the Hoyas afloat. While they were able to defeat high-ranking rival teams, they also stumbled, losing to teams they should have easily beaten. The inexperience of the backcourt, mainly freshmen, paired with the occasional unreliability of their veteran players, made it hard for the Hoyas to secure any substantial wins or build up a winning streak.
Hoya Staff Writers Jake Wexelblatt and Joanna LaCoppola contributed reporting.