The Georgetown men’s basketball team continued its recent success Tuesday, March 2 at McDonough Arena, defeating NCAA tournament hopeful and Big East foe Xavier University, 72-66.
The Hoyas (9-11, 7-8 Big East) fended off a late second-half scoring run by the Musketeers (13-6, 6-6 Big East) to squeeze out a six-point win.
Georgetown’s veteran core played well during crucial moments throughout the matchup. A back-and-forth start left the Hoyas clinging to a narrow three-point lead early in the first half. After sitting out Saturday’s game against DePaul, senior guard Jahvon Blair returned with a needed boost off the bench. Blair scored nine of his 12 points in the first half, opening up a 30-16 Georgetown advantage with just four minutes remaining in the first period.
Georgetown dominated defensively in the first half, outrebounding the Musketeers 26-15 and holding Xavier to just eight out of 30 shooting. Thanks to sophomore center Qudus Wahab’s dominant presence in the paint, the Hoyas’ performance on the glass propelled them to 12 second-chance points and a comfortable 38-23 lead heading into the locker room for halftime.
Returning from halftime, the Hoyas showed no sign of giving up. Behind strong three-point shooting from graduate forward Chudier Bile, Georgetown would extend its lead to 19 with 11 minutes left to play.
Despite the promising start for Georgetown, guard Kyky Tandy provided the spark the Musketeers desperately needed. Tandy scored 12 of his 14 points in a five-minute stretch to cut the Georgetown lead to 66-63 with 2:29 remaining. During the same stretch, the Hoyas struggled from the field, shooting just 2 for 12.
With Georgetown in danger of blowing its lead, Bile banked two free throws from the line to secure the 72-66 victory.
The victory held added significance for the team’s upperclassmen, coming on senior night and the final home game of the season. Senior guard Jamorko Pickett led the way as a result, finishing the game with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Along with the significance of senior night, Tuesday’s win was extremely consequential for Georgetown’s hunt for a coveted fifth seed and first-round bye in the Big East tournament. In a press conference following the matchup, Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) expressed disinterest in focusing on playoff positioning and instead emphasized the importance of remaining focused.
“All we have to do is worry about us,” said Ewing. “If we win, then things will fall where they may.”
The Hoyas will look to build off their strong play in recent weeks in their final regular-season game of the year against the University of Connecticut on Saturday at noon.