In a game marked by poor shooting and turnovers, Georgetown University dropped its Gavitt Tipoff Game contest to Penn State by a score of 81-66.
For the game, Georgetown (2-1) shot 38% from the floor and committed a season-high 21 turnovers, 13 coming in the first half. The Nittany Lions (3-0) converted the Hoya turnovers into 24 points. The Gavitt Tipoff games are an annual series of games in which teams from the Big East and Big Ten conferences face off. In the event last year, the Hoyas traveled to defeat Illinois.
Georgetown Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) was most disappointed in the team’s frequent turnovers throughout the game, especially in the first half.
“We have to do a much better job of taking care of the ball,” Ewing said. “That’s one of the things we always try to stress is having a low turnover game, and then we gave up 22 points off [turnovers]. That’s way too much.”
Penn State got off to a fast start to take an 11-point lead in the first five minutes. Penn State guard Myreon Jones scored 14 of the team’s first 16 points, all before the first television timeout, on his way to a career-high 21 points by the end of the game.
Riding the Georgetown scoring drought, Penn State went on a 15-3 run to take a 25-7 lead. Yet Georgetown would not go down easy and fought back with help from sophomore guard James Akinjo. Akinjo ended the Nittany Lions’ run with a three-pointer, sparking a 9-0 Hoyas run over the next 1:31 to cut the deficit to nine points.
Georgetown fought to keep the lead within striking distance. Akinjo knocked down a baseline jumper to cut the lead to 35-28. Although the Hoyas began to make shots, they could not stop their counterparts and eventually trailed 42-34 heading into the break. Ewing was disappointed in the pace of the game, as the Nittany Lions were able to slow down the contest and play more to their strengths.
“They wanted to play slow, we wanted to play fast,” Ewing said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work because we gave them too many wide-open shots.”
For the half, both Georgetown and Penn State shot just under 43% from the field; Georgetown committed 13 turnovers and Penn State committed nine. Ewing sees shooting as the first thing to fix on the journey toward getting the offense back on track.
“They beat us at everything. We turned them over also but we only got 12 points off turnovers. We also couldn’t make shots,” Ewing said. “We’ve got to do a better job at shooting a better percentage; we’re a better team.”
To start the second half, senior center Omer Yurtseven brought the crowd to its feet with an aggressive and-one dunk, cutting the deficit to 42-37, the closest the scoring margin would get for the rest of the game.
In the loss, Yurtseven, the team’s leading scorer, recorded his third-straight double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Akinjo was the only other Hoya to score double figures, recording 13 points, nine of which came in the first half.
Yurtseven’s efforts to cut the lead to five points were the best the Hoyas could do, as the Nittany Lions quickly regained a double-digit lead and held it for the remainder of the game.
Penn State led the entire game and, with three minutes left to play, put the game out of reach with back-to-back three-pointers to take a 79-62 lead. For the game, the Nittany Lions shot 45% from three-point range, making 13 three-pointers.
The game was a great opportunity to make a statement victory, but the Hoyas fell short in all phases of the game, with the stakes seeming too high as the Hoyas faced their strongest competition to this point in the young season.
“We just did not handle the moment,” Ewing said.
Georgetown will look to bounce back as it faces Georgia State University (1-1) Sunday evening, its last home game before heading to Madison Square Garden for the Empire Classic. Despite the impending challenge next week, Ewing will continue to focus on one game at a time as he helps the team improve in all phases of the game.
“We have to watch film, make corrections and then after that get ready for Georgia State,” Ewing said. “They’re a quality team as well, so if we don’t play well, they’re capable of beating us.”
Tipoff versus Georgia State is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17, at Capital One Arena. The game will be televised on FS1 and can be heard locally on The Team 980 on 95.9 FM.