Suffering its first two-game losing streak since the start of the season, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (6-5, 0-0 Big East) fell 79-73 to UNC Asheville (7-4, 1-0 Big South) Saturday afternoon. Freshman guard/forward Kaleb Johnson led the way for the Hoyas with 16 points on perfect shooting from the field and senior center and co-captain Bradley Hayes recorded a double-double with 11 points and 18 rebounds to go along with a career-high six assists.
For the Bulldogs, freshman guard Dylan Smith posted a game-high 19 points with five three-pointers in just 27 minutes off the bench. Yet again, defending the three-point shot proved to be a problem for Georgetown as it allowed UNC Asheville to shoot 47 percent from beyond the arc. In addition, the Hoyas allowed the Bulldog guards to get multiple easy looks near the rim.
“Defensively there is a lot that we could, should, would, hopefully will in the future do differently,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “At the end of the day, you can talk about points in the paint and this, that and the other, but the last couple of games our defense has been what’s let us down. It’s glaring.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Georgetown struggled against UNC Asheville’s varied defensive scheme. The Bulldogs stayed in constant motion and game-planned specifically to offset their size disadvantage.
“You have to find ways to keep them off balance a little,” UNC Asheville Head Coach Nick McDevitt said. “I thought by switching from a man defense to a zone to a 1-3-1 gap defense, we kept them off balance; sometimes particularly, when you play open-post motion teams, they kind of get in a rhythm of shooting threes and a lot of backdoor shots.”
McDevitt also mentioned the importance of his team’s zone defense against the Hoyas.
“We also wanted to play zone because Georgetown players are huge,” McDevitt said. “We couldn’t just play man-to-man defense with their front line [being] 6-[foot]-8, 6-[foot]-9, 7-foot. We knew we were at a disadvantage when it comes to size so we tried to use our length and our athletic ability around the perimeter to try to negate some of that size.”
However, statistics indicated that Georgetown’s size was not entirely negated. The Hoyas shot nearly 63 percent from inside the arc compared to 18 percent from three-point range.
One reason as to why the Hoyas failed to get the ball into the paint more was the Bulldogs’ disruptive defense. However, instead of matching up against UNC Asheville’s small lineup, Georgetown elected to try to exploit its size advantage with Hayes and freshman forward Marcus Derrickson. The two big men combined to take just 12 shots on the day.
In addition, the nine three-pointers that the Bulldogs made proved to be the difference as the Hoyas lost at home to a mid-major program for the third time this season.
After leading 9-8 early in the first half, the Hoyas never led again and fell short on each comeback attempt. Sophomore guard Tre Campbell, one of the quickest guards on the roster, saw just nine minutes of action. Junior forward Reggie Cameron played five minutes, his lowest total of the season.
In a small bright spot, sophomore forward Paul White, after scoring just four points total since his return from an injury, scored six points in the loss.
After a long homestand, the Hoyas travel to take on the Charlotte 49ers (2-8) Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.