The Georgetown men’s basketball team defeated Liberty University 88-78 in a fast-paced home contest at the Capital One Arena on Monday.
Following two wins over Campbell University and the University of Richmond last week, the Hoyas (7-1) looked to extend their winning streak to four games.
Senior center Jessie Govan drove the Hoyas to victory with an efficient 17-point, 10-rebound double-double. Freshman guard James Akinjo led the team in scoring with 19 points and had his best shooting performance of the season, sinking six of his 10 shots from the field.
As a team, Georgetown shot 52.7 percent on 29-of-55 field goals, including 61.1 percent from beyond the three-point line. On the season, the Hoyas have averaged 47.3 percent on field attempts and 36.1 percent on shots from behind the arc.
Sophomore forward Jamorko Pickett was benched in favor of senior guard Greg Malinowski against the Flames (7-2).
Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) said he made his decision based on Malinowski’s performance in practice.
“Some things happened in practice, so I decided to make a change,” Ewing said in a postgame press conference. “Greg did an outstanding job.”
Malinowski played 10 minutes and left with a knee injury in the second half. Pickett played 28 minutes, the second-most on the team, and led the team with a game-high five assists.
Ewing praised Pickett’s response to the benching, especially considering his negative response to being benched last season.
“He did respond — unlike last year, when he pouted,” Ewing said. “This year he stepped up, played hard and did good things to help us win,” he said.
Ewing also reassured that Pickett will return to the starting lineup against Syracuse.
“I’m going back to the way we normally do things come next game,” Ewing said.
A large part of the victory came from Georgetown’s performance on the glass. Georgetown increased its average rebounding total to 38.4 per game, out-rebounding Liberty 44-26.
In the first half, the Flames played the Hoyas tightly. Georgetown led 40-38 at the break. However, in the second half Georgetown’s defense stepped up when the team needed it most. The Blue and Gray held the Flames to 39.5 percent shooting in the second half. Georgetown’s defense helped it build a 25-point cushion on the offensive end.
Govan praised his team’s emphasis on sharing the ball on offense during its second-half run.
“We started playing together, moving the ball and making good reads on offense,” Govan said. “Instead of taking the first shot, we worked for the best shot we could.”
However, despite the team’s performance in the second half, Ewing warned of a return of bad habits. The team had 19 turnovers, compared to eight in each of its last two matchups.
“Once again, when we got up big, instead of keeping our foot on the gas, we let go,” Ewing said.
Georgetown will look to continue its positive momentum in its next matchup which is set for Saturday, Dec. 8, against longtime rival Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN.