Usually, top basketball programs such as the Georgetown men’s basketball program start off their regular season schedules with opponents from lesser-regarded conferences, such as Radford (1-0), which Georgetown (0-1) beat 76-49 last season. However, this season was a whole different story, with the undersized Highlanders coming into Verizon Center and escaping with a double overtime victory, thanks to a game-winning three-pointer by senior guard Rashun Davis with 1.5 seconds left.
“I was just really proud of the way our guys battled. We were out-sized at every position, there’s just so many advantages [for Georgetown], but our guys have a lot of heart. I really love this team, you know they care about each other, they compete for one another, and they got themselves a good win to start the season,” Radford Head Coach Mike Jones said after the game.
With no player over 6-foot-8 on its roster, Radford was at a clear size disadvantage, but that did not show on the stat sheet, as Radford out-rebounded Georgetown 43-37, including 15 offensive rebounds.
Senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes, who led the team in both points and rebounds with 19 points and 12 rebounds, was not pleased with the Hoyas’ lack of hustle on the board.
“I think it was heart,” Hayes said. “They just wanted it more than we did in the moment and it’s just that simple.”
Radford’s Davis was a thorn in Georgetown’s side throughout the game, scoring a game-high 28 points on 12-for-19 shooting, including 3-of-7 shooting from three-point range. The Hoyas struggled to guard Davis, throwing multiple defenders at him to try to find something that would work, with senior guard and co-captain D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, sophomore guard L.J. Peak and sophomore forward Isaac Copeland all taking turns guarding him.
“Davis is one tough nut. A tough kid that makes winning plays,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. “And not just the shot down there at the end. You got to give Mike [Jones] and his group all the credit. They came in here and played tough. Both teams could have packed it in and we both kept fighting back-and-forth, back-and-forth and then a big-time player hits a big-time shot to win it.”
Radford started off strong from the beginning. Smith-Rivera, who was held scoreless in the first half, put the blame for the poor start on his own shoulders.
“I just think, in the first half, I started off flat and it carried over to the rest of the team,” Smith-Rivera said. “For the most part, I take the blame for how we started the game off and, coming down the stretch, we just needed to make plays we felt like we usually make and we got a lot of open shots that we just didn’t make.”
The Highlanders got out to a quick 7-2 lead, and the game was very tight throughout the first half, with Radford leading for a good portion. Georgetown took the lead at the 14:10 mark of the second half, but did not extend the lead past eight points, as Radford hung around thanks to some timely three point-shooting from Davis and senior guard Cameron Jones, who had 20 points and was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
“We talk all the time about having resolve, and things are always going to go wrong; you have to do some things right, but when things go wrong, how do you respond to that? And I thought our guys, when that happened we responded the right way and they responded by coming closer together,” Jones said.
Radford stormed back to take the lead on a Davis three-pointer with 3:17 left, and then extended the lead to 64-59 with 1:43 remaining after turnover by sophomore guard Tre Campbell. However, a Copeland three-pointer brought Georgetown within two. Peak stole the ball on the ensuing inbounds pass and made a layup while being fouled by Davis to tie the game at 64, with a chance to take the lead on the free throw attempt. However, Peak would miss the free throw, and the game went to overtime.
In the first overtime period, Georgetown took the early lead, but Radford once again came back on a fast-break layup by Davis. With Radford up 71-69, Tre Campbell stole the ball and found Smith-Rivera in transition for the layup to tie the game at 71. Radford freshman forward Sterling Christy then turned the ball over on the next Radford possession, and Georgetown had the chance to win the game again, but Isaac Copeland missed what would have been the game-winning shot from the corner with one second left.
The second overtime period began like the first, with a lot of back-and-forth play. Georgetown took an 80-79 lead with 38 seconds left on a Smith-Rivera layup, but after Georgetown got the ball back after a missed free throw by Davis, Peak missed a three-pointer. Davis got the ball, calmly dribbled up the left side of the court and canned the game-winning shot from beyond the arc. With 1.5 seconds left and the Highlanders up 82-79, a stunned Verizon Center crowd watched as Peak was unable to get a final shot off in time.
“They just outplayed us. … We knew that we were playing a veteran team. We knew we were playing against a very good team.” Thompson said. “I think we learn from it. We go back and we watch film, see what we did wrong and get ready for Maryland [1-0] on Tuesday.”