The impossible happened — or at least something that has not happened in nearly two years — the Georgetown men’s basketball team won a conference away game. The Hoyas’ 68-62 victory over Butler now gives them two Big East victories on the season, two more than last season.
The return of senior big man Qudus Wahab provided a major boost to Georgetown’s (7-21, 2-15 Big East) lineup against the Butler Bulldogs (13-15, 5-12 Big East). A constant presence in the paint, Wahab put up an efficient 14 points, going 5-6 from the field and adding 8 rebounds in his all-around effort. Along with Wahab, sophomore guard Brandon Murray added 17 points and 6 rebounds.
The Hoyas destroyed the Bulldogs at the line — Georgetown finished the game with 17 made free throws — while Butler only attempted a measly 6.
Neither team was particularly effective from behind the arc; however, Georgetown finished the game hitting a third of their threes, while Butler shot just under 27%.
Along with their dominance at the charity stripe, the Hoyas also dominated the boards. Georgetown finished the game with 16 more rebounds than Butler, including 14 crucial offensive rebounds, a side effect of Wahab’s return.
One bright note for Butler was their interior defense. Six Georgetown shots were rejected, while the Hoyas failed to record a block.
The first half did not start the way Georgetown would have hoped. After the Hoyas briefly took a 3-2 lead, Butler scored the next 12 points. Right away, it seemed that Georgetown’s away losing streak was destined to stretch to 23 games. A well-timed time-out by Head Coach Patrick Ewing (COL ’85) helped slow Butler’s momentum, and the process of chipping away at the lead began.
After a hectic sequence involving missed fast break layups by both teams and a dunk flying off the back iron culminated in a made dunk by junior guard Wayne Bristol Jr., Georgetown found themselves down by only 5 points with over 10 minutes left to play in the half.
At this point in the game, Georgetown began to utilize Wahab’s presence in the paint and consistently fed the post. Working out of the post, Wahab either found ways to score himself or set up his teammates for easy looks. At halftime, the Hoyas were down 32-37.
The Hoyas began the second half with a heightened intensity to scrape back their lead. Less than three minutes in, a Murray triple cut their deficit to 39-41. From this point, the two teams traded baskets, with Butler struggling to pull away and Georgetown failing to take the lead until back-to-back jumpers by Murray and Wahab finally put the Hoyas over the top with 5:14 left in the contest.
Once Georgetown took the lead, they never let it go. Eventually, Butler resorted to fouling as a last-ditch effort to steal a win. Not cracking under the pressure, Georgetown hit all 6 of their free throws in the final 31 seconds.
Defense made all the difference in Georgetown’s second-half success, an area that has been a marked weakness in their past games.
“We did a great job defensively — they hit six threes at one point in the first half and they only made one in the second half and that’s where the game was right there,” Ewing told Georgetown Athletics.
In addition to the Hoyas’ stellar second-half perimeter defense, Ewing raved about the team’s effort that went into the win.
“Everyone did some positive things to be able to come away with a win,” Ewing said. “Qudus Wahab with his four offensive rebounds was big for us, Brandon (Murray) with his 17 points, Jay Heath with his clutch plays down the stretch.”
After earning wins against DePaul and Butler, Georgetown hoped to pick up its third conference win against St. John’s (17-12, 7-11 Big East) and make a Cinderella run in the Big East tournament. The game against the Red Storm tipped off at 9:00 p.m. on Feb. 22.
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