For the first time in 693 days, the Georgetown men’s basketball team has a Big East win to celebrate. The Hoyas took down the DePaul Blue Demons 81-76 for their first regular season conference win since March 2, 2021. Sophomore guard Primo Spears racked up 21 points and 6 assists to lead the way for the Hoyas.
Georgetown (6-15, 1-9 Big East) limped into the Jan. 24 game winless in conference play, while DePaul (9-12, 3-7 Big East) had split games against No. 8 Xavier and No. 23 Providence. The Blue Demons opened the scoring at Capital One Arena with a drive and jump-stop layup. Senior center Qudus Wahab answered on the other end by drawing a foul on a dunk attempt and knocking down a pair of free throws. At the 15:28 media timeout, the Hoyas led 7-4 and had held the Blue Demons to 2-of-7 shooting from the field.
DePaul set up a zone press out of the timeout, but the Hoyas’ press break translated to some good looks from the perimeter. With 11:23 to play, sophomore guard Primo Spears found junior forward Akok Akok in the corner for a three-pointer that gave the Hoyas a 14-10 lead. On the next trip down, sophomore guard Brandon Murray grabbed a bouncing offensive rebound and found junior guard Wayne Bristol Jr. for a three from the top of the key to make the score 17-12. The teams exchanged baskets until the 8:18 mark, when DePaul began an 8-0 run to take a 24-21 lead.
Graduate wing Bryson Mozone punched back with a 5-0 run of his own a minute later, and with 2:45 to play, Spears spun in the paint and put up a layup that sat on the rim before falling in for an and-one. He made his free throw to give the Hoyas a 34-30 lead. DePaul then netted seven straight points, aided by some sloppy decision-making from the Hoyas, to take a 37-36 lead into halftime.
Georgetown came out of the tunnel strong, stringing together solid defensive possessions to take a 47-41 lead. Sophomore guard Jordan Riley was very effective on the drive, and at the 12:44 mark a Murray free throw extended the Georgetown lead to 55-46. In response, DePaul poured in eight straight points to pull the score back within one, 55-54.
With 8:50 to play, the Blue Demons took the lead 58-57. Wahab was called for an offensive foul handing the Blue Demons all the momentum, but the Hoyas stayed resolute. With a three from Akok, a pair of jumpers from Spears and Murray and some free throws, Georgetown regained its lead and stretched the margin to 73-63 with 2:15 remaining.
On defense, sophomore center Bradley Ezewiro managed to stay in front of the DePaul point guard, and Murray poked the ball out. A strong drive and layup from Spears on the other end put the Hoyas ahead 75-63 to the joy of the crowd of nearly 4,000 fans. The lead looked insurmountable, but the final 1:30 of play had Hoya fans on the edge of their seats.
Georgetown Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) said the last minute of the game dragged out during the postgame press conference.
“It did feel very long,” Ewing said. “The clock started ticking bit by bit, but I thought the guys fought hard. They made the plays they needed to make.”
DePaul cut the lead to 75-68 after four straight missed free throws from Akok and Spears. Riley then fouled the DePaul point guard in the backcourt, sending him to the line to bring the score to 75-70. The Blue Demons nearly stole the baseline inbound pass and the Hoyas were forced to call a timeout to draw up a play. They found Spears, who sank two free throws to make it 77-70. After a DePaul layup, Mozone made a pair from the line to make it 79-73, but the Blue Demons knocked down a quick three to get within one possession, 79-76. But Spears took the inbound, went to the line and iced the game for the Hoyas with two free throws, making the final score 81-76.
Senior Jacob Cohen (SFS ’23) reported that he was pleasantly surprised by the Hoyas’ performance.
“Tonight was my first Georgetown basketball game,” Cohen said in an interview with The Hoya. “I had heard so much about how bad we were, but all I’ve ever seen is us win.”
Akok said he was proud of how his team managed to stay engaged and optimistic through the long drought of losses before the win against DePaul.
“Coach Ewing kept emphasizing the message, stay in the fight, keep believing,” Akok said in the postgame press conference.
Building confidence from their first conference win in almost two years, the Hoyas will hit the road to face the St. John’s Red Storm (13-8, 3-7 Big East) at 2 p.m. on Jan. 29.
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