Despite leading for nearly the entire game, the Georgetown men’s basketball team faltered in the final minutes of their early season clash with the Holy Cross Crusaders. Aided by a late 11-0 scoring run, Holy Cross shocked the Hoyas, winning 68-67 in front of a stunned crowd at Capital One Arena.
Georgetown (1-2) started out the Nov. 11 game slowly, turning the ball over on their first offensive possession. After Holy Cross (1-2) guard and forward Joe Nugent nailed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, Georgetown Head Coach Ed Cooley called a timeout less than a minute into the game.
After the opportunity to regroup, the two sides traded baskets for the first five minutes of the half. However, with the game tied 8-8, redshirt first-year guard Rowan Brumbaugh forced a steal and converted the fastbreak jumper.
On Georgetown’s next offensive possession, junior center Ryan Mutombo grabbed an offensive rebound and found Brumbaugh on the perimeter for a three-pointer. The sequence provided the Hoyas with an early 13-8 lead that they would hold until the game’s final four minutes.
Brumbaugh shone in just his second collegiate game. He finished with a complete stat line of 17 points, three assists, two rebounds, two steals and no turnovers.
Despite controlling the tempo for most of the game, the Hoyas never developed a substantial lead. Georgetown’s largest lead was 11 points, but Holy Cross managed to stay within single digits throughout the game.
Cooley said the team’s inability to put the game out of reach was a contributing factor to the Hoyas’ loss.
“We didn’t match the energy that was in the building,” Cooley said in a postgame press conference. “We didn’t give the crowd a chance to get behind us the way we needed. Whenever you’re in these games and let teams hang around, anything is possible.”
The two sides entered the halftime break with Georgetown leading 37-32.
One of the biggest storylines of the second half was Holy Cross’ dominance in the rebounding battle. The Crusaders out-rebounded the Hoyas 41-31, with Holy Cross securing the same number of offensive rebounds as Georgetown’s total defensive rebounds at 15.
Georgetown entered the season short-staffed in the frontcourt after losing 6’ 9” forward Akok Akok to the transfer portal in August and having to sideline 6’ 9” graduate forward Ismael Massoud due to a broken hand.
When asked about his level of concern over the team’s shortcomings on the glass, Cooley said he believes that effort determines rebounding success.
“I think rebounding, regardless of your size, regardless of your talent, rebounding is a will and a want and an attitude. Right now my team just don’t have it.” Cooley told The Hoya, “We will address that. I promise you we will address that.”
The two teams again traded baskets for the majority of the second half. Although the Hoyas’ lead ballooned to 57-46 with 8:35 remaining, Georgetown’s offense suddenly stagnated. 10 points from guard Joe Octave powered the Crusaders on an 11-0 run that stretched over four minutes.
Octave dominated in the second half, scoring 25 of his game-high 33 points. He nailed a clutch contested 3-pointer to give the Crusaders a 68-67 lead, their first since the game’s opening minutes, with just 56 seconds remaining.
Following Octave’s critical basket, sophomore guard Jayden Epps missed a contested three-pointer of his own with 44 seconds left on the clock. After earning a crucial stop on defense, Cooley called a timeout with his team down by 1 point and two seconds remaining. However, a Holy Cross defender intercepted senior guard Jay Heath’s long inbounds pass.
The final buzzer promptly sounded, giving Holy Cross the unexpected 68-67 victory.
Despite the disappointment of losing to a lower-ranked opponent, Cooley said the early loss would not make or break Georgetown’s season.
“The sun is going to come up tomorrow,” Cooley said. “This is not going to define what type of season we’re going to have, whether it’s good or bad. I am going to build a program built on resilience and we’re going to build a program that everyone will be proud of.”
Georgetown lost its next match 71-60 to Rutgers (3-1) on Nov. 15 and will look to refind its footing back home against Mount St. Mary’s (1-1) on Nov. 18.