The Georgetown men’s basketball team, looking to build upon the momentum of hard-fought performances against No. 22 Texas and No. 1 Duke in the 2k Empire Classic, challenged UNC Greensboro at Capital One Arena on Nov. 30, ultimately falling by a final score of 65 to 61. Following the halftime break, the Hoyas shot just nine for 29 from the floor in the four-point loss to the Spartans on Saturday.
The Hoyas (4-3) began the game with an early lead over the Spartans (6-2). Following back-to-back three-pointers from sophomore guard James Akinjo and senior guard Jagan Mosely, the Hoyas jumped out front with a 10-2 lead with 16:37 to play. After a smooth mid-range jumper from senior center Omer Yurtseven, Georgetown extended their lead to nine behind a 6-0 run, bringing the score to 16-7.
Despite their strong play at the start, the Hoyas went on a four-minute scoring drought that opened the game up to the Spartans. UNCG responded to Georgetown’s run with two three-pointers of their own to pull within three. The Blue and Gray committed seven turnovers in the first 15 minutes of the game and allowed the Spartans to tie the game at 22 with 6:06 remaining in the half.
After conceding the early lead, the Hoyas regained control of the game behind a jumper by freshman center Qudus Wahab and four points by Akinjo, who made a foul shot and finished at the rim for an and-one to push his team to a four-point lead. Akinjo went on to score 12 points in the matchup, finishing as the leading scorer among both teams. Sophomore guard Mac McClung also contributed to the Blue and Gray run, hitting a three-pointer with 1:37 left to bring the score to 31-24.
Following a second-chance layup by UNCG forward Mohammed Abdulsalam off a Georgetown turnover, the Spartans cut the Hoyas’ lead to three, pulling within striking distance as the teams headed to the locker room with a score of 32-29 in favor of the Blue and Gray.
While the Hoyas outshot the Spartans 42.9% to 32.4% from the floor, UNCG took advantage of early foul trouble and limited minutes for Yurtseven, out-rebounding the Blue and Gray 21-19 in the opening half.
With a small lead heading out of the locker room, the Hoyas got off to a slow start, unable to build upon the strong shooting and passing that led Georgetown through its successful first half. The Spartans opened the second half with a layup to pull within one before McClung put away two foul shots to extend the Hoyas’ lead again. UNGC responded with seven unanswered points to secure their first lead of the game at 38-34.
The Blue and Gray went 0-for-5 from the field in the following three and a half minutes amidst an 11-1 run by the Spartans to push the score to 42-35.
Behind five of Yurtseven’s 10 points in the game and five turnovers by UNCG, Georgetown regained a 43-42 advantage with 12:15 to play. The Hoyas’ defense backed this offensive push by preventing the Spartans from scoring a field goal in over five minutes. After a three-pointer from junior forward Jamorko Pickett, Georgetown’s lead stood at 49-44 with 10:07 remaining.
The Spartans fought to overcome the deficit, but freshman forward Myron Gardner’s back-to-back and-ones allowed for the Hoyas to cling to a 54-51 lead with 6:34 remaining. Down the stretch, the Hoyas’ turnover troubles proved too costly. After committing four turnovers in a span of under three minutes, UNCG went on a 7-0 scoring run to take a 58-54 lead.
The Hoyas pulled within one after a Mosely and-one with 2:18 left. However, Georgetown failed to capitalize on the most important scoring opportunities of the game as the clock wound down. Yurtseven came up just short on a slam with under a minute to play that would have given the Blue and Gray the lead.
After fouling with 27 seconds left, Georgetown, down two to UNCG, missed an offensive rebound on the second free throw that allowed the Spartans to return to the line and extend their lead to four with 16 seconds on the clock.
UNCG’s lead proved large enough despite a late layup by McClung as the Spartans held on for the 65-61 victory.
In the loss, Georgetown shot 11.9% worse from the floor in the second half which saw the Spartans outscore the Hoyas by seven. Yurtseven, Akinjo and McClung, who combined for 31 points in the matchup, shot a combined 10-for-37 from the floor. The Hoyas’ 19 turnovers and inability to capitalize on opportunities in the field proved costly in the final minutes.
Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) expressed his frustration with his young players’ lack of cohesion as a team in the loss.
“We’re still building, we still have a long way to go,” Ewing said. “One of the things I tell my team is that until they stop thinking about me and start thinking about we, that’s when we’re gonna win. Right now we’re too selfish and we need to be more unselfish.”
Georgetown will look to rebound from the loss as they travel to Stillwater, Okla. for a Big 12 matchup with the Oklahoma State Cowboys at 8 p.m. on Dec. 4. The game will be televised on ESPN+ and can be heard locally on WOL 1450 AM.